What will World of Warcraft have to do to keep me interested?

My World of Warcraft subscription runs out in a couple of weeks and I am very unsure about whether I want to get any more, particularly since Legion looks to be a massive let down. On the one hand, leveling characters up from 1 to 100 is really fun, even if it drags a little in places. I also find that there is lots to enjoy from exploration and doing dungeons, and also a lot of fun to be had from making money, but there is a lot of stuff that is slightly forced onto you once you reach level 100 that makes me just not want to bother. End game is meant to be the big draw to World of Warcraft to the point where Blizzard have made it incredibly easy to blast through all the fun stuff to get to the highest level, but, outside of the hardcore audience, there’s very few people who want to spend large portions of time doing the end-game content that is currently on offer, so here’s what I think World of Warcraft needs to do to keep me interested

Story

The stories in each expansion have gradually gotten worse and worse. Illidan was a really strong villain and there was a very clear goal and story to it all, as was Arthas. Deathwing from Cataclysm had a more vague story but I still thought that having a big, overarching villain helped it a lot. Mists of Pandaria at least had Garrosh as an end-boss but the whole story seemed at odds with everything we’d done up until now and then Warlords of Draenor was just Blizzard clutching at straws. The time travelling idea was a big no-no for a start and there was a lot of messing around with characters who we barely knew to pad out the story. The ending to the story, as well, went from satisfying (when you kill Garrosh) to incredibly dull and unfulfilling when the main villain, Gul’Dan, just walks in and basically declares “I’m the one you have to fight now,” even though we have no real motivation to do so.

When dealing with a lore as in depth and detailed as World of Warcraft’s it’s best to keep things simple. Everyone will end off better for it. They need to just make a villain, make his motivation reasonable and then make sure the players know it. Then you can start adding in his cronies, who will be the people you fight along the way, and you can start having quests that go off on tangents.

End-game

Garrisons were fun for a few weeks, then everyone got incredibly tired of them, especially if you had a gathering profession. Putting a limit on how many resources people can make is incredibly artificial and should never be done. The follower-missions are nothing but a distraction though I can see why Blizzard might want to keep them in. But that isn’t even the biggest problem.

More dungeons are needed. More raids are needed, and “World Bosses” need to go and sit in the corner and have a long think about their place in the game. Even if the raids or dungeons are linear corridors we can at least get behind the fact that there will be loot, which brings me onto my next point.

Items

It seems that Blizzard likes dumbing things down. I understand that the sheer amount and variety of items that could drop was overwhelming for a lot of people, but they have gone completely the other way. There’s no uniqueness to items at all. When I played the game during Wrath of the Lich King I used to like randomly viewing the items of level 80 characters because it was interesting and awe-inspiring. In Warlords of Draenor though, everyone has the same items. It looks like it will only get worse for Legion but maybe they can bring it back with whatever follow-up happens.

Talent Trees

This is a massive pet-peeve of mine. Talent Trees were, arguably, in need of a rework, and they got one just before Cataclysm. I wasn’t so keen because it was a dumbed down version, but it at least offered you some individuality even if there was, objectively, a best way to spend your Talent Points. It feels like, again, Blizzard have gone too far the other way. Admittedly, this is not the most important thing they need to fix but it would be nice, at some point, to see a return to form.

I think this article can be summarised by saying that Blizzard need to start making games for people who want to play games. It’s great when Blizzard can post numbers like they did at the start of Warlords of Draenor, where 10 million people were subscribed to WoW for the first time in years, but it’s such a short term plan. Targeting a game that requires as much of a time investment as World of Warcraft to casual gamers is only going to result in long-term subscribers resenting Blizzard and casuals playing it for a few weeks and then forgetting about it. I think Blizzard might get a bit of a wake-up call with Legion as most people I have spoken to have only said cynical things about it. It will sell well, enough to make Blizzard a tidy profit, but it won’t be anything like WoD and people are going to get fed up and leave eventually unless Blizzard change their attitudes.

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