Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grinding

I have yet to Valor cap this expansion. I feel slightly ashamed of this. I got to 900 the first week, 910 the second week, 600-odd last week.

Why? Well, for starters, it turns out that undertuned Heroics are fucking boring. [Who would have guessed?] They also now provide only 20% of the Valor they did previously, which is almost understandable given the difficulty reduction, until you realise that they are not actually solable now, so one-fifth of the Valor might be slightly off.

But the Dailies are worse. Remember when they said they were removing the Daily quest cap to "stop people from thinking they needed to cap it"? It's now been replaced with a weekly soft cap of two-hundred-- the number of daily quests you need to complete to gain 1000 Valor points.

I didn't used to hate Dailies. They weren't the most fun thing in the world, but I didn't actively hate grinding out every single one of the Argent Tournament mounts, and that thing has a reputation for being awful. But then they told me my raid gear depended on it, because... I have to assume they think I will enjoy Dailies more than running Heroics..? That is the only explanation I can think of. Why would they, as game designers, take my reward from one place and put it another unless they think I'll enjoy the other thing more?

The reputations have also had their grind increased. Where we previously had the option to use tabards to grind rep through Dungeon runs if that's what we enjoyed more, the lack of tabards has completely removed this alternate progression path. They gave us fewer options. On top of this, all Valor rewards now have a reputation requirement. We have to do daily quests to gain rep or even the Valor we gain is useless.

It's not the quests themselves. I like the easy-going running around smiting mobs and freeing slaves or whatever, knowing it's all headed towards a reward at the end. My issue is a resentment of being told exactly what to do to not be sub-optimal; the implicit obligation that the game has set for me. What I am feeling is exactly the effect that they were trying to avoid by removing the daily quest cap.

I resented being "forced" into it so much that last week I completely stopped doing daily quests. Just stopped. I could not bring myself to engage with that grind any more because it was making me dislike playing the game.

The reason I think this happened is the devs held too closely to this mantra they've been touting throughout the Mists development of "giving you lots to do to progress your character". This is a great concept, except that I think they misunderstood "progress your character" to mean "grinding Valor gear is the only way to progress your character", and "lots to do" as "you have to do the same things for longer". Then I imagine these devs cackling madly; "HAHA YOU WANT VALOR GEAR? DO WHAT WE SAY OR NO GEAR FOR YOU". And what they want you to do is everything. Outside of professions and pet battling, I can't think of much that exists at endgame that isn't now tied to Valor points in some way. I guess they'll probably start giving you 2 Valor per max-level pet battle win in patch five-point-two.

Sacred Duty has a great post that reiterates a lot of what I've been saying and claims that this is the grindy-est the game has ever been. That post also talks a lot about food buffs, which honestly I have been trying to ignore because I took one glance at the food system [yeah, it's a system now], saw how ridiculously convoluted it was and decided not to bother. I can't help but think they must have assigned some overzealous up-and-comer to design it and he really wanted to make his mark.

"This food provides 250 stats to ten people unless one of them is Best Friends with the Cooking trainee in which case it provides 275 stats to all players but if the person who placed it recently purchased a buff token from Halfhill they get 300 stats but this expires in 15 minutes instead of 30. Also it makes you larger."

These days you can buy food from a vendor for three gold that buffs you with 200 stats [other people like Mastery the best too, right?]. But you want that extra 100 stats? Oh man you better be ready to WORK for it.

So anyway I've been enjoying pet battling a bunch, doing a lot of AH trading, and slowly levelling Tashraal. I got the Shaman ability Ascendance last night, which for someone levelling is basically a oneshot iwin button against whatever you're fighting. Shamans have a lot of iwin buttons, I've noticed.

I also played a Monk for a few levels. It's fun, but needs more mobility and/or ranged abilities. I guess most classes feel slow at low levels, especially when you're used to charging around on a Warrior.

I think I'm just going to stay away from endgame until it makes me hate the game a bit less...

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