As of last night, I completed my third and final run through Wrathion’s quest chain in World of Warcraft, earning my rogue her legendary cloak. She follows in the footsteps of my warlock and my monk, who had previously earned theirs.
When I first completed it on my warlock, I figured I’d never have the patience to attempt such a massive grind again. However, with nothing better to do in this seemingly endless pre-expansion lull, I ended up giving it a go again on my other level 90s. A variety of nerfs had made it much less of a grind than it once was, though still quite an effort.
I still have fairly mixed feelings on the legendary quest, but in the end, I think my positive memories will outshine the negative ones.
A legendary journey:
Yes, it is an ungodly grind, even in its heavily nerfed state. If I never see the Isle of Thunder or its associated raid again, it will be too soon (EXECUTUS). And I still don’t really think a legendary item is something that should just be handed out to anyone and everyone. It may not be a popular opinion, but I think Burning Crusade had the best philosophy to handling legendaries.
However, while I do tend the mock the idea of “accomplishment” in video games, I must admit there is a certain satisfaction to completing such a long journey.
More importantly, it was one of the better pieces of storytelling Warcraft has seen in recent memory. Wrathion is a very interesting and complex character, and it’s great to see a strong anti-hero in WoW again. Let us hope he doesn’t go the way of Illidan and Kael’thas.
Although he can be deadly serious at times, Wrathion also brings a lot of humour with him, and the writers manage to incorporate it in a way that doesn’t seem clownish or detract from the player’s ability to take him seriously. That’s a difficult tightrope to walk, and one WoW rarely succeeds at.
And some of his banter with Anduin is just sheer gold.
The few aspects of the chain that didn’t involve a massive grind offered some very fun gameplay, as well.
As I was working through the quests on my monk and rogue, I came to the conclusion that a major portion of my motivation was simply the desire to replay the solo challenges at the Thunder Forge and the Celestial temples.
A lot of people — including myself — like to complain that WoW is far too easy, and there’s a lot of legitimacy to that complaint, but it’s actually a little more nuanced than that. The vast majority of WoW’s content is insultingly easy, but there is difficult content, as well — but it’s insanely, brutally difficult.
What WoW is severely lacking is moderately challenging content. There is no happy medium; only ludicrous extremes.
The solo challenges on the legendary quest fell into that sweet spot of being difficult, but not overly frustrating. I’d usually only die once or twice on each before completing it. And because it’s solo, there’s no sting of letting anyone down if you fail, or feeling of being carried if you succeed.
Controversy. There’s always controversy:
Of course, just as I was finishing up my final legendary quest, Blizzard came out with the announcement they’ll be removing the entire storyline from the game when Warlords of Draenor is released.
The odds of my ever attempting the quest again were very low, so this doesn’t effect me much, but I still think it’s bad for the game.
Blizzard has made a lot of questionable decisions lately. This isn’t necessarily the worst, but it’s definitely the most confusing.
Nobody benefits from this. It fractures the lore, eliminates an impressive chunk of content, and results in people having less to do during the next year-long content drought.
Content should never, ever be removed unless there’s absolutely no way to avoid it. It’s a known fact that no MMO developer on the planet can produce content faster than players can consume it. A large stable of legacy content is one of the ways to mitigate player boredom during content lulls. Why would Blizzard shoot themselves in the foot by eliminating some?
I’ve heard Blizzard talk about how it’s a problem that all of the game’s story is so scattered and disjointed. Why would they make that problem even worse by gutting Mists of Pandaria’s main storyline and eliminating a massive amount of development for two crucial lore figures?
The only explanation we’ve gotten so far is that it’s meant as a reward for those who played during MoP, but that doesn’t make any sense. The reward was getting the cloak when it was still relevant. Removing the storyline going forward doesn’t reward anyone, but it does punish a lot of people.
I honestly find it a little insulting that Blizzard thinks I’m a sufficiently petty person that I would view kicking the teeth of everyone who came after me as a reward.
It also seems to indicate that Blizzard cares more about stroking the egos of a vanishingly small minority who find some kind of prestige in a cloak you get from LFR than about its own epic lore and story. That doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence for the future of this franchise.
The news that Warlords of Draenor’s legendary quest will also be temporary content has dampened my already minimal enthusiasm for the new expansion. On top of removing flying, on top of the lack of new features, on top of the wacky lore, I also have the to spend the whole expansion worrying I won’t be able to grind fast enough to finish the chain in time?
Bleh. It’s hard to convince myself it’s even worth playing at that point.
It’s rather a trainwreck from a PR perspective, too. They announced the chain’s removal far too late, such that anyone who sees the announcement and thinks, “Damn, I better get on finishing that” will have no reasonable chance of completing the chain unless they were already very close.
And it comes across as incredibly tone-deaf considering how sensitive people are about all that’s being removed in Warlords of Draenor. One of my favourite comments on the matter to date has been, “They ran out of things to remove from the new expansion, so they started removing things from live.”
This is why I struggle to maintain my former level of love for World of Warcraft. It’s not that Blizzard isn’t putting out great content. They are. But there’s inevitably some kind of poison pill, some utterly baffling and pointlessly punitive decision that puts a damper on the festivities. I can never just relax and enjoy the game.
Edit: Because I’m a masochist, I posted this rant on the official forums. If you agree with me, or if you disagree, post and help keep the discussion going.
Always look on the bright side of life…
Well, at least I can be glad I got all the cloaks I wanted while I still could. I’ll enjoy my memories of the storyline, even as I mourn its loss.