The most recent expansion for WoW, Warlords of Draenor, was released last year and created the biggest rise in subscriber count that World of Warcraft has ever had and, subsequently, the biggest drop off that it has ever experienced as well a few months later. There were a myriad of reasons for this and, having played on and off this year, I decided to explore the reasons why WoD was so hyped and then just didn’t have the longevity that past expansions did.
First of all, the way loot is dealt with is, in my opinion, a step back from old expansions. Blizzard was having trouble in Mists of Pandaria with keeping dungeons relevant for end-game content when new patches came out. However, the solution they came up with was not to go back to what worked in Wrath of the Lich King, wherein a few new dungeons were added in each expansion that gave out raid-level loot to get people up to speed, but instead to make loot completely generic. There aren’t “drops” for each boss anymore but, instead, there is a random chance for each member of the dungeon group to get a level 650 item in heroic, which has a chance to be upgraded to level 675. For me, there is no excitement here, no anticipating what will drop. Instead there is only a formula of “do any dungeon, get the same equipment.” It’s dull, and, from what has been revealed about Legion, it doesn’t look set to change.
Secondly, WoW has become a singleplayer game you play online. The only reason to join a guild is so you don’t have to deal with the “raid finder,” but, if you don’t get in there early in the expansion or if you, for some reason, fall behind in raiding then good luck getting into one. Guild achievements were a nice addition but they don’t do anything besides tie you down before you have a better guild already lined up, and many people think the reason why everything to do with Garrisons is a chore (besides the fact that there’s a mandatory browser-based game in there) is that it lacks any ability to show it off, and even now, when you can have one friend visit it, everyone’s Garrison looks the same.
Now we get onto the meet of things because, in this expansion, there really isn’t much to do. I am swamped by the amount of things that I could do but I find it difficult to find anything I really want to or is really pressing. There are dailies but the only reason you do them is to get more resources for your Garrison. There are dungeons but, besides the fun of doing some of the dungeons, because they are really good, you don’t want to endlessly do them to get gear because there’s just no drive to do so. Battlegrounds are the same as ever which, actually, is slightly refreshing, and then there’s what I do; going back and looking at all the old content and exploring.
Exploring Draenor is shit. You have to get the achievement for exploring Draenor before you get flying and it’s beyond dull to traverse places like Gorgrond, Talador and Spires of Arak are a pain to get around because of how many obstacles are in your way, and you should bear in mind that this makes up half of Draenor. My favourite thing about World of Warcraft was always exploring, and it’s the reason I quit in Cataclysm because, being in Azeroth again, it didn’t excite me to see the new zones. Mists of Pandaria I wasn’t tempted by but, having looked at it not, the whole expansion looks beautiful, but they had other problems with that expansion that I won’t go into.
Then there is the lore itself. Everyone was excited to see Garrosh return, and other recognisable names come and go, not mentioning the ones that fight on your side. In fact, I think all the enemies are really cool, if you look them up. If you don’t then you will have no idea why you are fighting them or why you are here. I think this was one of the strengths of the first three expansions; you knew who you were fighting and why. In this expansion, Garrosh dies at the end of questing, which I really liked, but it does leave us without a main antagonist for end-game content. Gul’dan comes in afterwards to take over the Iron Horde but all the leaders just get muddled up in my head.
I personally think that WoW might just be a bit burnt out. The people coming up with the stories and expansions have run out of ideas and need to take a step back. Moreover, I think that Blizzard needed to plan their expansions in advance to build up to them in last expansions. Warlords of Draenor is a bad example because it takes place 35 year in the past but if we go back to Mists of Pandaria then we can see how they might have build up Legion (WoD was just an extension of MoP because Garrosh didn’t die at the end for some retarded reason that still escapes me) There should have been mentions of the Legion’s gaze turning, once more, to Azeroth and perhaps a few quests dedicated to fighting their demons. Of course, there are Burning Legion demons in WoD but that’s because we’ve gone back to Outland before it got messed up completely. If they had been absent it would have looked wrong and, as I said, they can hardly build something up when WoD is so far removed from anything in the rest of the game.