Over the last few days I have trying to sort out something about Battle for Azeroth, namely why World Quests feel so generally awful in this expansion. What I have come up with is a few points, but they all largely center around it being a system that was developed for a different expansion cycle and then not retooled enough to make it function in the same role in this expansion. For starters World Quests are generally an excellent source of gearing, and in this first days after dinging 120 it very much played that role, giving me access to better and better items until eventually hitting the world quest soft cap of around 330… with dungeon quests being able to drop up to 340. The highest actual quest drop I have seen for a green is 273, so that gives you 57 levels worth of gear before the system ultimately peters out. Honestly that seems like a reasonable gap in itemization, and I augmented it with the occasional heroic or mythic drop to speed my process up.
I think the crux of the issue with World Quests is we are no longer chasing anything that actually matters. In Legion we were chasing a slew of Legendary items that could drop from literally anything, and I have seen them drop from random boss based World Quests. So for me at least it felt like every single World Quest that I completed was one additional chance that I had to get the chase items of the expansion… a Legendary item. Additionally Emissary quests rewarded a chest upon turn in, that often times had a piece of gear that was very useful in that gearing phase… but most of my alts got their very first Legendary this way as well. So again doing the Emissary each day was some thing I looked forward to, because it gave me rep, some sort of a reward, a chest that contained gear… and once again the ever important seemingly elevated chance at seeing orange text scroll across my screen.
The other thing that is missing is a grind that feels like it matters. Artifact Power good or bad felt important for a very long time… even towards the very end as we were unlocking those traits that just sorta made everything get better… the effect was noticeable. I felt like I was tangibly better after spending that point… but also the acquisition of artifact power felt more even handed. As it stands right now… I can clear both Zandalar and Kul’Tiras of every single available quest during an evening and I won’t have made a single dent in the amount of Artifact Power required to get one more item on the MacGuffin necklace that they gave me that I am supposed to care about. The ramshackle manner in which we are given traits that are to be unlocked by necklace level… makes the entire system something very hard to deeply care about. I got an item… the item is higher level… I guess I will use it in spite of not being able to unlock any of the traits because they are arbitrarily placed through some progression system that I think at one point was supposed to be important but just now seems like numbers pulled out of the ether to keep us grinding.
Basically put… all of this feels deeply unsatisfying and makes me start questioning what exactly the point of us logging in every night to do emissary quests actually is? The answer to that is… faction. Faction is the fire in which we burn. At least in my case the faction I care the most about right now is the Honorbound because it gates my progress towards unlocking the Mag’har. Similarly I am certain that faction will also be the thing that gates our access to the Zandalari and Kul’Tirans respectively. In both cases if I could give Blizzard a sum of money to pay for my time spent… and either instantly gain the faction needed or just simply pay to unlock the race… I would happily do so because the grind that ultimately bars content is completely joyless. In Legion we gained faction as a side effect of the chase for bigger and better things. The Artifact weapons felt like a fitting reward for gaining Artifact Power… and the Emissary chests gave us a shot at getting the real power items of the expansion the Legendaries. It was a chase I was capable of doing and ignoring the fact that I am every so slightly moving the bar up.
Effectively in order for a grind to feel good… you have to have enough things distracting you from the fact that you are grinding. Every 10 to 20 minutes there needs to be enough of an endorphin hit to make you feel like you just accomplished something, and Battle for Azeroth seems to lack this when it comes to what I would refer to as the maintenance grind. Sure Warfronts were fun because they gave me a shiny purple item every 15 to 20 minutes… but World Questing, the thing that should be there as a daily pursuit is just a bunch of stuff that I will throw into the grinder or an insignificant amount of gold or artifact power to make up for my time spent. 115 gold for example… the highest paying World Quest that I have available to me on the above map is a completely meaningless and insignificant sum of money. In order for gold to be a reward from doing a world quest I feel like it at bare minimum needs to be a range that goes from roughly 500 to 2500. Similarly Artifact power at this point already requires 2500 or more in a single hit to make the bar noticeably move.
Ultimately what happened last night is I logged in… did my Emissary quest… felt horrible about the rewards… then logged over to the other faction in an attempt to play an Alliance character. Which again I bounced out of pretty early on because in the back of my head was a little voice asking me… do I really want to do this grind all over again on another character on another faction? The grind is just not fun, and I hope they do something to make it feel better in the next patch. In the meantime I logged over to Destiny 2 which has its own grind problems and found myself having a good deal more fun because… once again every 10-20 minutes I got the little hit of endorphin from something interesting dropping on the ground.