The Mustering of Azeroth: An End at Last

At long last, the journey is done. My nearly two year mission to complete every class story in World of Warcraft has reached its conclusion, with the last three now in the rear view.

My druid posing with the Scythe of Elune in World of Warcraft: LegionMan. What am I doing with my life.

Rise of the mountain queen:

The trouble with the warrior campaign is it’s one of those stories that just doesn’t go anywhere. You spend all this time marshaling the armies of the Titanforged, and then… that’s it. You don’t actually do anything with your amazing immortal army. I like the subject matter, but there isn’t really a story here.

The only significant lore revelation to be found is learning what happens to the Kvaldir after Helya’s defeat, but while that’s nice to know, it’s honestly not a question I’d even thought to ask.

They do have a very pretty class hall, at least, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed playing arms spec. Going in, it sounded totally unappealing; I thought not having an active rage generator would make the spec incredibly slow. But it’s not like that at all. It’s quite quick, and it flows well. I wound up enjoying it better than fury, which I never would have expected.

This is why I try to test out so many different classes and builds. You never really know what you’ll like until you try it.

The warrior class hall in World of Warcraft: LegionRu shanna Shal’dorei:

We had a bit of a last minute line-up change here. I had leveled up my Pandaren hunter, but that race never seemed to fit the class very well, so I decided to use my “free” 110 boost as a cheap alternative to a race-change. I spent really a disturbing amount of time agonizing over whether I wanted to be a Void Elf or a Nightborne, but while Void Elves are unquestionably the coolest looking race in the game right now, the vastly superior backstory of the Nightborne won out.

As for the campaign itself…

I’ve said before that Legion’s class campaigns don’t have enough content to work as standalones. The best campaigns are those that build upon existing lore and continue the stories of well-known characters.

The hunter campaign is entirely standalone, and as a result it’s possibly the dullest of all.

It’s undoubtedly a challenge to come up with a cohesive story for a class that has no real singular identity or established factions in-lore. I’m not sure I have a better idea for how to handle things. But the fact is that the Unseen Path, while potentially an interesting concept, is way too out of the blue and way too underdeveloped to be at all compelling.

My Nightborne hunter in World of Warcraft: LegionWhat’s equally sabotaging to the story but harder to explain is the fact the hunter campaign focuses almost entirely on unfamiliar characters the player isn’t going to have any investment in. There are more than a few memorable and interesting hunter characters in the lore, but for some reason they’re largely ignored by the campaign.

The hunter story isn’t quite as destructively dumb as the shaman campaign, but for sheer boredom, it takes the crown.

Also, I skipped recruiting a couple of followers because they required you to do Nesingwary’s quests in Highmountain. A long time ago, when I was a lowbie leveling through Stranglethorn, I swore to myself I would never do any more quests for that benighted, grind-loving Dwarf again, and I will not break that promise for anything.

The one piece of good news is that I did enjoy playing the class quite a bit. Marksmanship takes some getting used to, but once you get into the rhythm, it’s pretty satisfying. It does feel like playing a patient, master sniper. Beast mastery was also pretty fun, surprisingly. I wouldn’t play it solo, but in a group context, it’s not bad. More active than I expected.

Survival didn’t quite do it for me. It’s got some cool ideas and unusual mechanics, but it’s just not tuned well. You wind up so focus-starved.

The wilds call out:

My druid, Broll Bearmantle, and Thisalee Crow during the druid class campaign in World of Warcraft: LegionThe druid story was a good note to end on. It’s not the best class campaign, but it is better than most. In stark contrast to the hunter campaign, it draws almost entirely on well established characters and plots. Maybe it’s still a pretty basic story on paper, but as a long-time Warcraft fan, I can’t deny the thrill of once again adventuring alongside the likes of Broll Bearmantle, Hamuul Runetotem, and Celestine of the Harvest.

Also, you get to relive the War of the Ancients in all its mad glory. Hells to the yes.

Man, I am scarred for life by Thisalee Crow’s new voice, though. It’s like they got the actresses for her and Valeera completely backwards.

Mechanically, I find druid a mixed bag. There’s no spec that I actively dislike, but nothing quite clicks, either. Balance and restoration just feel off in a way I can’t fully articulate, and feral still feels like playing a watered down rogue.

Guardian did grow on me a bit, though. If I wasn’t so burnt out now I might have spent some time playing guardian just for the hell of it even after I finished the campaign.

There’s also a certain sense of symmetry to finishing with my druid. He is not the first character I ever created — playable Worgen didn’t even exist back then — but he is reusing the name I gave to my original WoW character, who was a Night Elf priest. In that sense, I’ve ended as I started.

The Claws of Ursoc artifact quest in World of Warcraft: LegionFinal thoughts:

What a long, strange journey it’s been.

I admit to having mixed feelings. There’s a lot about this I enjoyed, but honestly, twelve class campaigns is a bit much. I’m glad I pushed myself to do more more than the stories of the classes I normally play, and it did give me a much more holistic view of the story of Legion, but I’m not sure doing every last one was really necessary.

If you’re wondering which are the must-plays, I’d say death knight, paladin, druid, and mage are the ones that feel important as a lore fan. Rogue and warlock were also a lot of fun, but I’m not sure they can be considered required.

Death knight wins as my overall favourite. Shaman was the worst.

This also means that I have now played every class and spec in World of Warcraft. I’d say the most enjoyable specs in each role right now are outlaw rogue for melee DPS, elemental shaman for ranged DPS, resto shaman for healing, and prot paladin for tanking.

Blizzard has done a very good job of improving class design across the board such that while there are more than a few specs I’m not that passionate about, there are very few that are actively unpleasant to play. Just holy paladin and demonology warlock, I’d say. Which is very sad to say, because those are both specs that have in the past been my favourite.

The warrior class hall in World of Warcraft: LegionOf course, Battle for Azeroth will be changing everything again soon anyway…

Speaking of which, I think I must address my future relationship with World of Warcraft. I’m still not willing to say that I’m done with the game for good, but honestly? I have no plans to play anymore WoW right now.

The fact is pretty much all the stories I care about have been wrapped up, and the Mustering of Azeroth seems like a good note to end on. Maybe I’ll come back at some point, but for now, as impossible as it is to believe, I think I’m done with this game.

I’m still a Warcraft fan. All the stuff I used to love is stuff that I still love. I’ll always be a Blood Elf nut. I’ll always have fond memories of WoW and the previous games (not to mention the novels, comics, and movie). But at this point I think the franchise has given me all it can. I think it’s time to quit while I’m ahead.

Stay tuned, though, as I still have one or two more posts about all this up my sleeve…

I leave you now with a gallery of all twelve of my max level characters. A fine-looking bunch, if I do say so myself. You should all be impressed that only half of them are Elves.

Shorel’aran, friends.

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WoW: All Good Things…?

For the last several years, the thought of my not playing Warcraft — not simply taking breaks, but permanently leaving the game — had never really occurred to me. The Warcraft universe has been an important part of my life since before I learned to read. The thought of that ever changing was simply absurd.

My rogue shows off her fancy new hat in World of WarcraftBut now I’m starting to wonder. Maybe a time might be coming soon where I should move on. I look at the upcoming expansion, and I can’t say I feel the urge to play it. Instead, I’m wondering if it might be better to quit while I’m ahead.

That’s not to say that I’m rage quitting because I hate the direction of Battle for Azeroth. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I do hate the direction of Battle for Azeroth. It’s asinine on every possible level.

But I’ve hated the direction of WoW before. Remember Warlords of Draenor? Yeah. Hating Blizzard’s decisions is old hat to me by now. It’s just part of the experience. If it was simply a matter of hating BfA, there would be no story here.

No, this thought has actually been in my mind since before BfA was announced. Battle for Azeroth has simply accelerated my timetable.

See, I got to thinking — really thinking — about where WoW was going to go in the very long term. As much as it sounds nice in theory to be able to continue enjoying a story you love indefinitely, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. No king rules forever (my son), and no story can maintain quality forever. Eventually, things will get stale.

The Petrified Forest on Argus in World of WarcraftSo I started wondering if it might not be a good idea to let go of WoW at some future date when the story had reached what I felt to be a satisfying end point.

At the time, I was picturing this as something a few years off. But then came Battle for Azeroth, and if rehashing the faction conflict yet again isn’t a red flag that Blizzard is running out of ideas, I don’t know what is.

Fueling the fire is the fact that I have had a pretty good time with Legion. It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not everything I ever wanted in an expansion, but taken all in all, it’s been a pretty good ride, and as endings go, you could do far worse. For all the mishandling of their story in recent years, the Burning Legion has always been the ultimate threat at the heart of the Warcraft universe. Their defeat seems like a natural end point.

When I embarked on my mad “Mustering of Azeroth” scheme to play every class story, I never intended it as a farewell tour, but it does work brilliantly as such. By the time I finish, I’ll have played every class, every spec, and most of the races. I’ll have seen just about everything the game has to offer and had a grand time doing it.

And really, there isn’t that much left in the story I care about. Most threads have been resolved. Nearly all the big questions have been answered. I’m pretty satisfied with everything at this point.

My warlock shrouded in darkness by the Inky Black Potion in World of WarcraftI mean, N’Zoth is still interesting, but it’s not an arc I have a lot of emotional investment in. He’s too much a behind the scenes player. Similarly, I’ve wanted to see Nyalotha for years, but at this point I doubt it could live up to expectations, especially with the standard TSW set for Lovecraftian weirdness. I don’t think WoW even has the technological ability to make Nyalotha as bizarre and frightening as I’m imagining it.

I like the new Void lore, but again, I don’t feel the strong urge to explore it further. Seems like all our big questions have been answered.

Ultimately, it may come down to Azshara. She’s the one unresolved plot thread I’m still heavily invested in. When the idea of leaving WoW behind first occurred to me, my general thought was to wait for an Azshara expansion and then move on once it was done.

But now we know Azshara will be in Battle for Azeroth, and my future as a WoW player may hinge on how she is handled. If it’s true that she’s been relegated to being merely a first tier filler boss, that may just be the final nail in the coffin. If this is some fakeout where Azshara turns out to be the final boss and BfA is an Azshara expansion in disguise, maybe I’ll play it after all, but then it becomes likely I’ll move on after that.

It’s not as if the gameplay is keeping me around. It’s gotten better over the years, but I still find WoW to be at best adequate as a game. Some of the classes are pretty fun, but they’re held back by overly easy enemies and a fundamentally simplistic and restrictive model of combat.

A statue of Azshara in the Tomb of Sargeras raid in World of WarcraftI am excited by the new allied races, but at the same time, what do I need more alts for? I’ve leveled through the old world so many times, and BfA seems to be returning to an endgame model where alts are largely pointless.

The thing that would most hold me back right now is my attachment to my characters. As I’ve said before, I’ve played my rogue for a really long time now. She’s become a kind of mascot, my go-to online identity. Letting go of her will not be easy.

It’s a shame that WoW is so laser-focused on endgame to the expense of all else. It would be nice if I could just go around repeating stories with my characters indefinitely as I can in TSW, but it just doesn’t work that way. Story quests aren’t repeatable, and I’ll never get groups for endgame dungeons or raids once Legion is done.

If you’ve already done the current content and don’t buy the new expansion, there’s no point to playing at all. At best I could role-play, but that’s never quite been my thing, and I would still have to cope with the new story direction, unless I somehow find a group of RPers who ignore everything after Legion.

The subscription-based business model also contributes to making WoW an all-or-nothing affair. You can just pick it up for half an hour if the mood strikes you. You commit fully, or not at all.

I don’t know what I’m ultimately going to do. I do know myself; I have far too much franchise loyalty for my own good, and Warcraft has always been a part of my life. It’s hard to imagine ever leaving it behind for good.

My rogue on her class mount in World of WarcraftBut I have to say right now I feel as though I’ve gotten all I want out of WoW. I’m content. I don’t need anymore.

And Blizzard should be far more worried by that than by all my burning hatred towards the decisions of Battle for Azeroth.