BfA: Strategic Blunders

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
Michael LeBoeuf

BfA: Strategic Blunders

We are in a bit of a lull and waiting for the next patch on December 11th. I’m still playing the game and enjoying it. However, we can now look back and over our first experiences.

War Mode
It is a new feature and a very good one. The players that I know who do it: love it. I have read the interviews with the developers who tell us that the Alliance got a bad introduction to War Mode and they are trying to up the rewards. Whether it is Horde racials that make them better at PvP or not, the perception is there. How Blizzard can change the perception of the players, I don’t know. How they’ll get a balance of Horde vs Alliance by getting the Alliance to come back after getting their butts kicked continually: I don’t know.

Island Expeditions
The islands are a lot of fun and well designed. The blunder in this case is that the designers assumed that AP as a reward is something that we would do anything for. There is no excitement on the islands, even finding a rare, when the rewards is always AP. It becomes a grind — and that is too bad considering all the work that went into the design elements. They are, again, upping the rewards to try to get us in there. New pets, mounts, doubloon vendors, tmog pieces is something we’ll play for, but when the end prize is AP and we just don’t care.

By flattening our healing and dps, it has allowed for a lot more mechanics; the blunder here is that we survive fights, we don’t feel like we kicked heroic ass. Part of this flattening (there is a bunch) is the three AP pieces that won’t war- or titan-forge up, which does not feel good — we know very well how they are scrambling to make the traits better and to up the rewards.

Fun stuff! The reward is a piece of high gear and you can re-run vs the AI over and over for 340 pieces. The quest portion rewards resources and plenty of gear, pets, mounts and toys. The donation part is pure AP and optional. No one that I know wants to miss this and we often party up to take it on. I don’t see any blunder in here but felt I had to mention it. By the time the new warfront comes out, we’ll have soaked Arathi for all it has.

I might start swearing at this point. The buff feasts and primary stat potions are so hard to make that the majority of raiders show up without them. The majority of players do not put gems in their sockets or enchant their pieces. The level of frustration when seeing this in your fellow players is a spike in blood pressure. Overall and in every aspect, Blizzard botched professions and this is a strategic blunder that I don’t think upping the rewards will change our perception of their failure.

Gold Making
Blizzard can shove it …
Sorry, players are getting angry. When a designer says that they upped the emissary rewards so we can afford our bonus rolls: I could throw a brick through their window. The interviews that I have seen on the lack of passive gold-making show the dev kind of shaking his head like he doesn’t get it all. It has to be orders from above.

End Game
This part of the game is the problem that Blizzard can not solve. After great designs in quests and classes and zones; once you arrive at 120, everything becomes a slow grind. The WQs and Emissary and more are all out of a fear; the fear born from Warlords of Draenor. The solution is not elegant. Other solutions like much bigger zones and endless quest areas must be too hard: I’m thinking of the size of Kalimdor when I first started in Burning Crusade and even at level 60(?) there was still so much more to explore.

The biggest strategic blunder in the first chapter of BfA is the assumption that the players would happily chase AP. This blunder has influenced all of the game because as a reward, we are not interested in pouring time into our neck piece (because the game has been flattened and it makes no noticeable difference).

There is a lot in 8.1 to look forward to: new story, quests, lore and all of the things that make this game great. Also, there is a racing push to keep players grinding, mostly by upping the rewards because AP is a terrible lure. And, I am not confident that they get it: the new Incursions which will be great for XP if you are leveling only reward 600 AP to max level players — this won’t be fun, it will be a hassle when they are in our way to get things done.

By using Legion as a template for BfA, Blizzard did not consider that we would be wiser and less naΓ―ve. It took a while in Legion for us to see how the AP grind becomes a deadening experience but we carried that understanding over to BfA. Unless they can get out of the hole that they’ve dug, they’ll have to keep adding other lures like titles or allied races or making things account wide or something.

Finally, you know that I will be in there in the thick of it. I love the game, it just needs some fresh leadership or less pressure from Activision or more fun.


11 thoughts on “BfA: Strategic Blunders

  1. The funny thing is, they seemed to design the game so getting to level-cap is quick, but then they extend the “leveling” by adding in a lot of grinds (ie; AP).
    I think they would do better to extend the leveling time (by months if possible) and add in rewards that you outgrow as you level. This keeps the goal of level-cap fresh and the rewards always new. Level specific dungeons with appropriate gear, professions you grow into.
    Gee, sounds like Vanilla wow had a good chunk of it correct…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Yes, and yes. Azerite system should have been our next AP goal. The epic ring, the epic cape, the artifact weapon all had a big grind to do.

    It’s not Activision to blame, because it’s not that we do not want the grind. We grinded the hell outta our epic rings in WoD – raiding more than it was required to gear up.

    The grind is simply anti-climactic nowadays. Mostly I’m blaming the UI of the necklace. We just don’t feel how our azerite acquiring influences the gear pieces. We had a precise and exciting trait map to complete with artifact weapon, now we don’t have that goal. We don’t see all the traits, they are random, and they will change upon acquiring another piece of gear. So the whole system feels vain.

    Smaller thing: making azerite shards used automatically feels like life improvement, but it’s not πŸ™‚ It was extremely satisfying to USE the acquired pieces in Legion, now it just drops in the hole.

    And, as you pointed out, the whole endgame is wrapped around azerite necklace. It’s not bad per se, but due to its design failure, the endgame just falls apart – for the lack of motivation. It’s not lack of development time – azerite is just an idea that didn’t work. Happens from time to time.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Azerite is the central thing this expansion. And its baked into everything. And I think it is the biggest thing driving negative opinion too. It doesn’t feel like a good progression system, I stopped chasing ap levels less than a month in and it felt so much better.

    I think islands are a neat concept but because of ap design, I hate them and don’t do them anymore. Warfronts are a similarly neat concept, but they are kind of boring to me too. Lastly, allied races are an amazing concept to me. I love seeing and playing new races. However, needing to unlock them at all is a big no no for me.

    I feel like this expansion in my experience has been a lot of cool concepts and ideas, but executed in ways that are not so good. I hope going forward in the patch cycles they make changes/additions I enjoy

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Warfronts are kinda boring. Maybe the new one will be more fun. As for Warmode…well…not a fan of PvP so Blizzard would have to pay me $15.00/month to turn it on lol. Yes, I play Alliance πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

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