Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blizzard wasting their time?

So WowInsider would like to know. I've remained steadfastly quite on the Druid form changes up until this point because I hadn't really come to a firm conclusion until now. While I don't think Blizzard is wasting their time by any means, I am a little disappointed in the new forms and their lack of new animations. The older forms were truly lackluster and the Druid community had been "requesting" and redesign for some time before Blizzard promised it. So it had been something that a lot of people were waiting for with a great amount of anticipation. Instead of completely new art Blizzard instead updated the old models with additional polygons and a few minor art changes in the face. And the new models are only for Cat and Bear forms, so Resto and Balance Druids are left out completely and no new travel form is planned as far as we know.

Like myself, I think most people were expecting completely new forms all together. And not inclusive of cat and bear forms alone. Blizzard had an opportunity to bring a fresh face to the class and demurred. I do not completely berate the new artwork however--it is better than what we currently have and for that I do at least give Blizzard credit.

On the subject of new instances or battlegrounds I think I have to side with Blizzard. There are ample 5-man instances in the 1-60 and 60-70 brackets, as well as in the 70-80 brackets. Besides the 1-60 instances you can pretty much safely ignore and be none the worse for the wear. It's no secret I am an alt-a-holic, so the hearloom items have been a godsend to me. Shoulders and weapons are all you really need to worry about as you level. Everything else can greens you either loot of buy off the AH. You can usually find a few more people actually running the instances in the Outlands, but since you'll probably only be there two to three days anyway, does it really matter if you run any of them? On my last alt I think I ran two instances and didn't notice any detrimental affect. Once you hit 68 you head to Northrend and its better gear and there are by all accounts ample instances there. I think what most people lament is that once you hit level 80 and start running heroics, you will quickly get bored with them. You will have run them all previously in the run up to 80, and you will undoubtedly run them several more times as you level your reputations with the various factions. Once you start raiding however, you quite likely won't step foot in 5-man instances again, or at the very least, step foot in them very in often. Good news though, in patch 3.2 there will be a new 5-man instance for you to rummage around in.

Battlegrounds are a different beast all together. Your level restricts what battlegrounds you can participate in, but I think most people wait until they hit endgame before doing any serious battlegrounding. Personally I'll hit a battleground or two every could days just to break up the level grind. At least that way I'll have a sizable amoung of honor saved up when I do hit the level cap. My Druid that I'm leveling right now (level 73) has nearly 30k honor already, so by the time I hit 80 I should be able to but two pieces of pvp armor immediately.

I think there are ample battlegrounds already. Instead, I think the problem is that only a couple of the existing battlegrounds are really good. Wintergrasp (even after the nerf to the daily quests making them weekly) and AV are by far the best places to get honor. After that is Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm. And coming in last are Strand of the Ancients and Warsong Gulch. Warsong Gulch is the worst of the bunch with it's completely open game objectives that can, and do, lead to hour long matches that make your eyes bleed. Strand is slightly better because even if you are getting your teeth kicked in, at least you know there is a defined end point in the match.

The number of battlegrounds isn't the problem. The problem is that some of the existing battlegrounds are just plain bad. Blizzard nerfed the daily quests in Wintergrasp because people were going to Wintergrasp in droves and often causing massive lag. People still flock to AV, EotS, and AB because relatively good honor can also be found there, but outside those your choices are limited. At level 80 major pieces cost 30-49k honor, so you do the math.

Where I think Blizzard really needs to improve is in fixing the quest system in the 1-60 bracket. Despite increasing the XP gain from creatures and quests there are still glaring holes in the 40-49 and 50-59 zones and you end up doing a lot of travel in order to get from 40-58 when you can finally step through the outlands portal. Many people have asked recently for Blizzard to deal the final blow to vanilla WoW by allowing new alts to start at level 55 like Death Knights. Blizzard is thus far refusing to do that, so it makes it all the more important for them to go back and fix those holes they know exist. If they'd just do that I think things would be just fine, but again, thus far they are refusing to do that.