WoW Factor: All I want from Shadowlands is the pre-patch

I want to think about neat post-death vistas that feel like exploring a Yes album cover in plate armor

    
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WoW Factor: All I want from Shadowlands is the pre-patch

Folks, I am tired. It is a deep sort of tired, the one that seeps down to the bone. And it’s the kind of tired that has you looking at the World of Warcraft launcher and thinking about the fun that’s coming next… followed not all that long thereafter by a new wave of existing boredom.

Today is August 21st. Retail World of Warcraft’s last actual live update was on January 14th. Yes, I know, there have been hotfixes and such since then. That was still the last substantial update, seven months ago. We do not have any kind of release date for Shadowlands beyond “this year.” Really, October or November seem probable. I know, I know, it probably would have been this month if not for a global pandemic that disrupted everything. I know.

But even if it were coming out this month, I still find myself struggling to not feel tired. I’m not even excited about the expansion; I’m excited about the pre-patch and that’s it.

Even that excitement feels muted in a way. Yes, the pre-patch will be nice. New hairstyles! New customization options! Oh, so many of my characters are going to hop into the barber shop and change up their looks… and then that’s about it. Yes, that’s exciting, I’m happy for it, but that isn’t content. And then what?

Well… leveling, I guess? Streamlined leveling will be nice for several of my alts. But it doesn’t really change the central problem with the leveling wherein I have played all of this content, front to back, multiple times. It will be nice to have new options there, don’t get me wrong, but from the standpoint of praxis this means that I’m going from redoing content I’ve done dozens of times before across five continents to just one.

Don't call me Kyle right now.

Oh, and there’s the pre-launch invasion event, I guess. That’s a thing to do. And it’s just the Scourge invasion again, but with a few extra wrinkles. Like, yeah, I remember really liking that event back in the day, but this is not 2008, and my standards and experiences have changed since then. The thought of doing this again is not perhaps the siren song it is meant to be.

The weird part is that the idea of the pre-patch still has me more excited than the actual expansion itself. That gives me some real pause to think because isn’t the whole point that the pre-patch is more of an appetizer before the main course? Shouldn’t I be even more excited about the main event? It feels like I should be.

Lots of things are getting in the way, though. The first and most obvious one is, well, this is yet another expansion in which The Fate Of The World Hangs In The Balance; one of the things that I was actually excited about with this particular expansion was the idea that we might have an expansion wherein that was not the case, but alas, that didn’t deliver. But this time, not only does the world hang in the balance, but it requires exploring a metaphysical realm in which your connection to most of the material world is kind of sidestepped and lost.

Adding in more content for fans – that is, people who are familiar with names like Kael’thas and Uther and Ysera – should not make me feel more tired or more exhausted. I am literally the target audience. And every time I see something datamined about these figures, I just get more tired.

Part of it is, well… when we weren’t just getting Wrath of the Lich King But Again, Please Love Us Again, I was happy to say that this wasn’t just an attempt to roll another fanservice pardon. But increasingly, it looks as if that’s actually what we’re getting. It’s all the stuff you loved from before! But again! All the characters we couldn’t have around any more because they were dead, but now they’re still dead but you can chat with them! Yay!

I’m tired.

I keep thinking about how this is going to shake out in the future. Is this going to be a permanent thing? It feels like “you literally have a giant open door to the afterlife” is going to kind of change certain strategies if that’s the case. Or are we just going to pretend you can’t go back there even though you totally can, a la alt-Draenor? How was that whole stupid story just a footnote in Battle for Azeroth?

I realize that being tired about the future of this is a bit premature when we are still looking at this as our immediate future, but the point I’m making is that we have a bad precedent set up and there’s reason to already feel a bit tired about how things are going to shake down. I don’t want to be tired about this. I want to be pumped about it. I want to think about neat post-death vistas that feel like exploring a Yes album cover in plate armor. Instead, it’s just… sighing and boredom.

I see you there.

Maybe part of it is just that we know this expansion is not going to really address the overarching problems already in place On the one hand, it seems unfair to take Shadowlands to task for not including housing when it was never claiming to in the first place, to use an example. On the other hand… why was this where we went next? Why was that never on the table? When even your usual fan miners are starting to muse about how housing should already be a thing, maybe that’s a sign?

That’s the big thing that gets me. I’m tired ahead of an expansion launch for an expansion where I’m not even in the beta. I haven’t had time to get accustomed to this content and I don’t find myself wishing I hadn’t played the tests so I’d be more surprised. All I have is secondhand information, and even that doesn’t make me eager to play it in the least.

This feels very, very off to me. It feels like there’s something wrong when a thing I not only should be excited about but literally want to be excited about is hitting me cold. I want to be excited about covenants and soulbindings, and not thinking ahead to when those elements go away in a couple years, even though it’s disappointing to know ahead of time that they will go away in a couple years. I want to be looking forward to something that’s a different feel. I’d like to look forward to Torghast.

Instead… what I feel is tired. What I’m looking forward to are customization options in the pre-patch. And those are things that matter a lot to me, but it keeps striking me that everything else feels like something I regard with a shrug and a nod.

More than anything, I’m left hoping that a lot of this is more to do with timing than anything. That as soon as I am actually sitting down with the expansion, it’ll click and I’ll be enjoying it and there will be good things to say about it. Because right now, Shadowlands looks like it’s going to be a better expansion than Battle for Azeroth only because the latter was really bad.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.

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Morgan

WoW is the mmo that enrages me the most by far because it simultaneously excites and annoys me. I just use it as a fishing mmo now, all I do is fish, mainly for achievements. And yet it still gets on my nerves because of gated content hindering my experience.

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Lucky Jinx

The game is old, and yes, there was a period I felt like I’m completely done (skipped Draenor and Legion + returned around 8.2), and there’s a whole abundance of stuff I don’t like about BfA, yet it felt fresh to me having skipped those previous expansions. World quests were fun (being new to them), but I just wish Blizzard could see the wasting of everything good that was introduced along the way. I find a lot of fun in the game still, but somehow constantly feel like it could be a lot better. Some of those abandoned systems could have stayed and help to define the game instead of enforcing the old “hamster wheel” design. I’m going into Shadowlands with a feeling of “well, maybe this is more like what I felt when entering Pandaria… puky at first, but in the long run it’ll be pretty good.”

The constant let’s reset everything and start from zero thing is just really tiresome. I feel it again after putting out quite flattering posts about BfA for a while, and now realizing that it’s still WoW. Everything I’ve done will go away and be replaced by something new and shiny, except that it’s not that shiny anymore.

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Alt+F4

the reveal of the next xpacs title at blizzcon felt underwhelming, the term Shadowlands has very little imagination power to me. WoW: Beyond the shadow or at least WoW: Realms of Death/Shadow would have been a much sexier approach to Azeroths (next) apocalypse enfolding in the realm of Death.

the officially hyped design parameter: #Choices should matter/#RPG feels redundant, as with current design, WoWs ((spec) balance and (build) diversity evolved into a new era. although there (always) is a Meta, every spec (and within these various builds) r viable for Mythic raiding and high keys. choices already matter enough.
but after class fantasy, emergent gameplay and player agenda r overconsumed for eternities to come, a new hype generator buzzword that tops (those) is hard to achieve without any (!) new perspective on (MMO) design.
the reason for this articles special sentiment of fatigue is this deficite of any new design and gameplay input, SL simply reads like the same old (design) over and over again, the upcoming borrowed power systems may be fresh, but not new. and the more devastating is the expectation to lose this invested power with the next pre-patch, like Artifacts, Corruptions etc. (btw i love the power curve of BFAS4, although corruption vendor is too much Ketting (user unfriendly rotation) for me, and this system is officially declared broken by Ion himself, 240% mastery ret feels godlike)

MMO design evolution demands a new level of gameplay, not simply a re-iteration, but a new perspective, cuz there is only progression or stagnation.
maybe its a staff issue, but overall this stagnation seems to be industry-wide, not just MMOs.
gaming grew boring somewhere between Battly Royale and Pokemon Go, i dont need another Soulsborne, CRPG and MMO clone, i dont need another blend of the last decades design hits, i want something NEW.

Relmharver
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Relmharver

Game is old, man. Nothing is going to make the experience seem fresh and new for very long at this point. If you’re that tired, it’s probably best that you just move on from WoW permanently. Things aren’t going to get better for you.

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styopa

Thank you, came here to say exactly this,, albeit probably more snarkily.
I got tired of Buffy after season 5, tired of Wheel of Time around book 7, Star Wars by the introduction of ewoks, and even great content – LotR books, for example, is boring the tenth time you read it.

It really should not surprise anyone that players of a 15 yr old game are starting to flag.

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Zaynara

thats kinda how i felt about BFA, ‘the war, again? really? we’ve done this 3x, i know the last old god is gonna be in this, but can’t we just skip to that part?’ but this expansion actually has me excited for it, i love the strange, the unusual, the out of this world, like i liked Legion because it was demons and other dimensions, artifacts of power, and the culmination of decades of story and that was great, and going into the lands of death sparks something of me, and i want to see more ‘out there’ concepts. i want to go into the Void next…

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Khrome

Shadowlands is yet another content island which will be ignored completely after the expansion is done.

I still don’t understand how WoW is the MMO with by far the most content out there, but actually it *isn’t*, because any content which doesn’t explicitly belong to the current expansion is *completely irrelevant*.

I wish the game would go back to being “the *world* of warcraft”, instead of “the tiny island that might have a vague connection to warcraft somewhere, we dunno”.

zerohunt
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zerohunt

This is how corporate game structure works: Produce what sells and leave the passion at the door (that passion might make a failed product!)

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Michael18

Well said. This is exactly why I lost interest in WoW long ago when I realized WoW will never (again) be a true virtual world MMORPG. Last played retail sometime during the Pandaria cycle, and even that ended up to be just a brief, 1-month visit after an extended break since early after Cataclysm release.

For a long time now, Blizzard haven’t been showing any true interest in evolving WoW as a coherent virtual world or in the MMORPG genre in general. I guess this ship had sailed for good when Titan tanked and the simple lobby game they did instead became insanely successful.

It actually is a bit tragic, considering that vanilla WoW had a well-crafted, highly immersive virtual world.

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Utakata

“What I’m looking forward to are customization options in the pre-patch. And those are things that matter a lot to me, but it keeps striking me that everything else feels like something I regard with a shrug and a nod.”

Pretty much it for me. It feels the only thing that seems exciting is that I can roll and level characters I’ve always wanted to try, but couldn’t be bothered with the 120 levels of to go through. This will be a boon for me. And one that I most certainly don’t have to wait the for the expansion to drop to experience.

When it does drop, Shadowlands seems mostly a 2.0 version of Horrific Visions that now comes with Raiding, Mythic + dungeons and rated PvP. I have no interest in the latters. And I hated the former. So /bleh.

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Minimalistway

I’m waiting for it so i can go back to do what i love most, leveling new characters, before and even after the exp buff i felt sick of leveling because it’s too long, going into BC and WoLK zones was pain and it slows me down, after that i start to enjoy Cata and Pandaria, but by the level 100 i feel leveling is taking too much.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

zzz…

shadowlandzzz.gif
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Minimalistway

I read a lot about hypertext, your sneaky link gives me so much joy, thank you sir.

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Bryan Turner

How do you do what you do, you take memes to a level I’ve never seen anywhere else?

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Utakata

Mr. Schlagg even comes with trade secrets now. o.O

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Schlag Sweetleaf

The five traditional animal styles of Shaolin Meme Fu are the dragon , the snake, the tiger, the leopard and the crane.

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thalendor

I’m excited for Shadowlands. I’m looking forward to exploring the new zones, which have an otherworldly beauty. I’m looking forward to having new raids to run with my guild and new dungeons to run with my Mythic+ team. I’m looking forward to Torghast which looks like what Islands should have been. I’m looking forward to seeing Legion-style Legendaries return, but with a method of acquisition less dependent on the mercies of RNG. And I’m looking forward to some other things as well.

Yes, certainly, I’ve got things I’m not sold on. I’m particularly concerned about tying class abilities and power progression into the Covenants. I’m worried about soulbinds or conduits becoming the next Azerite armor. And I’m hoping the next Corruption isn’t waiting in the wings a major patch or two down the road.

Of course, my concerns are not your concerns. Character customization? Story? Housing? I’m not against any of these things, per se, but they certainly don’t animate me either. But I can see where you might not be excited.

I just think it needs to be stated that many people do enjoy the game as it is now, and are looking forward to the next expansion. It’s not all doom and gloom in World of Warcraft. Depending on how the next four months go, Shadowlands might just be one of the few good points of this otherwise entirely depressing year.

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Khrome

It’d have been nice if the expansion would actually be connected to already existing content, but as it stands it’s another 5-6 zone affair which stands completely isolated from the rest of the game. As soon as we get the mandatory zone patches, that gets turned into a 1-2 zone affair (again).

It’d have been nice if blizzard remembered that it’s supposed to be “world of warcraft”, not “tiny island that might have a vague connection to warcraft or something”.

The fact that it’s yet another “save the world” cliché doesn’t help. At some point blizzard needs to hire actual writers who can write actual compelling storylines rather than the constant carrot on a stick of ‘the chosen one saves the world’ which only 8 year olds use. That kind of story *can* be compelling, but not if it’s repeated ad nauseum in an ever escalating madhouse of ‘it was just a setback’.

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Loopy

I am legitimately happy to hear that people are having fun in retail. While it’s not my game any more and Classic simply fits my gamestyle better, i am also very much aware that not everybody shares that same opinion.

I hope that the new expansion brings you many hours of fun!