At this point Battle For Azeroth has been out for just shy of a month and in that time I have leveled two characters to 120 and geared them. I’ve shared little anecdotes as I leveled and did some of the content, but I have yet to really collect my thoughts about the expansion in one place. This morning I am going to share some of these thoughts because some things are really working extremely well, and other things are not working at all. This is by no means an objective list because the majority of the content on my blog is just me sharing my opinion with others. Your list is probably going to look a little different if you were to create one. However I feel like it is time for my to share my highs and lows.
What Works Well
This is not something I thought I would be into at all but I am shockingly loving it. Now some of that love will probably dissipate as the lure of 340 gear becomes less. I remember enjoying Alterac Valley back in Vanilla because it was about more than just fighting other players. The Warfronts are essentially all of those elements that I enjoyed divorced from the player versus player interactions I didn’t enjoy. Also did I mention 340 gear?
I am way more into the experience of running Mythic Plus this expansion, in part because my normal circle of folks that I tend to game with… aka the folks loosely connected to AggroChat are also into doing them. Also it feels like the gear is better this go around than it was the last time… because I got a 355 item from my Mythic 3 weekly chest, so numerically it seems to be scaling in a way that makes them worth it.
Again I was not super sure how I would feel about the split faction islands concept but I really like roaming around on Kul’Tiras. Once again this gives the feeling of PVP without actually being PVP since not playing on War mode means nobody gives a shit if I accidentally flag myself. It gives me a whole new playground to roam around in after I have already reached level cap, and I am hoping that they give us more areas as the expansion drags on similar to how they expanded the game with the Broken Shore and Argus.
Dinosaurs and Pirates
I really love the horde content and the feeling of riding Dinosaurs and fighting Old Gods. Everything about that is on point and makes me extremely happy. Similarly I love the whole Sea Witch and Pirate nonsense happening in Kul’Tiras. Basically this is Ixalan the expansion and I am loving so much about it. The faction bullshit is still faction bullshit, but at least it is playing out in an interesting way most of the time.
While I have not seen much of it, I am digging the whole Mesoamerican Titan thing going on with Uldir. The two bosses I have seen have been fairly interesting, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the raid. I think it is kind of shit though that they copped out and didn’t make it a tier set, and instead just made shared armor type sets. This wasn’t cool in Trial of the Crusader and isn’t really cool now.
I love War mode because it single handedly removed the worst players in World of Warcraft from my universe. They simply do not exist any longer because they are off on their own island full, removed from my field of view. Bravo for voting them off the island and making a more chill environment for me to run around in. As a result of this… the “enemy” players I encounter are often times helpful… and in turn I am regularly hopping in and helping them out as well. It is a kinder and gentler Warcraft that I greatly approve of… now just drop the damned faction wall.
What Doesn’t Work
Crafting still feels awful. Now I give them credit for splitting up crafting into a per expansion thing, because quite frankly that is the only reason why I am dabbling in crafting at all on my Demon Hunter. However what feels completely fucking awful is the fact that the gear that is actually worth chasing is gated behind running fifteen mythic dungeons to achieve it. By the time I can craft it, it will no longer be worthwhile at all. At a bare minimum there should have been a weekly quest to acquire a couple of the hydrocore items. Also there should have been a chance of any item over 340 that gets scrapped producing a Hydrocore. While this is less fucked up than Legion crafting was… it isn’t very far off the stupidity meter.
Every player I know is struggling to get decent weapons because they are just hard to come by. I’ve run a silly number of Heroic Dungeons… several Mythics, killed a raid boss, and a slew of warfronts and have never seen a weapon drop in any of them. I am having to survive entirely off drops from World Quests that seem to get rationed each week in an extremely limited quantity. Now having written this… I did get my first weapon drop of the expansion last night from a Warfront, and I will continue grinding that until I get another… however that weapon came after a chest, legs, 3 pairs of bracers, a belt, another pair of bracers, another belt, a cloak… and then finally a weapon. I still feel like they have tuned this expansion drops for the era when we got freebie Artifact weapons.
What if you took the Garrison and the Order Hall but removed anything about it that made it enjoyable. Then you would end up with the War Campaign that has a few interesting moments but largely feels forced and phoned in. The missions you can run are boring and don’t really offer anything interesting apart from the occasional faction boosts. The upgrades to your boat… are largely meaningless and are locked behind things I largely don’t care to be doing. It serves as a way for me to get to Kul’Tiras and nothing more, and all of the flavor that went into both the Garrison and Order Hall is just not there in any way that I care about.
Azerite Items/Heart of Azeroth
Much like the War Campaign this is a neutered version of the Artifact Weapon. Everything that felt good or interesting has been diluted and spread out over a bunch of artificial bumps in the road where you get something… but you don’t have an awful lot of choice about the thing you are getting. You get a 370 chest from Warfronts… well you are stuck with an arrangement of sub optimal talents on that piece of gear because it is not like you are going to luck into something else anytime soon.
There are so many ways this system could have worked better. Maybe if each time you leveled up your Heart of Azeroth you got to choose which talent to learn, and then when you got a piece of gear you got to assign to the 2 or 3 slots available one of those talents you learned. Then to go one step further… the assignments should be remembered like Talent picks and assigned to a specific spec so if you change your gear swaps Talent loadouts. As it is now… you feel like you have no real choice and have to largely roll with the items you get… because once you have left 325 land you won’t have all that many options.
So at face value these are “fun enough” and involve running amok and killing tons of stuff with a group. These work more or less like Pandaria scenarios… if they were completely divorced of having a purpose. As it stands I don’t get the point. They are a cool tech that could have been interesting, but as it stands it is a boring and grindy activity that occasionally if you are really freaking lucky you might get a pet or a mount. Your reward for running them is a purple currency called Dubloons that more or less doesn’t really have a purpose yet. As it stands the currency is used to buy a bunch of items that can only be used on Islands… but this does nothing to help define the reason why you should give a fuck. As it stands you are forced to do enough to have done five different island layouts in order to move your also largely meaningless war table progress forward. I can’t even call it a stick, because it isn’t really hard… but it is completely devoid of any carrot.