World of Warcraft struggles to come up with a Covenant compromise

    
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World of Warcraft struggles to come up with a Covenant compromise

With less than two months to go until World of Warcraft: Shadowlands releases, it’s not a great time to be making major adjustments to the expansion’s (arguably) tentpole feature. But that’s just what Blizzard seems to be doing with the controversial Covenant system.

In response to a lot of heated debates and rants (or as Blizzard calls it, “passion“) from players on the subject, Game Director Ian Hazzikostas posted a lengthy development update that covers immediate plans to change how alts will progress through the expansion, a slight reworking of Torghast’s introduction, improvements to PvP itemization, and, yes, changes to covenants.

Hazzikostas resisted calls to yank the system entirely or allow players to mix-and-match abilities between covenants, but said that the devs have “done what we can to minimize the burden of regret” when making build choices.

He expressed concern that the new system might unbalance class roles and access to talents, but said, “While tearing down the entire system may seem to some like the simplest way to avoid that pitfall, we’re committed to working with the community to ensure that players feel viable regardless of their covenant choice.”

As you absorb all of that, you can also take a look at Shadowlands’ new login screen and listen to its main theme:

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Ben Stone

Should have been mechanically identical skills with different flavor / skins. That way it would have been a lore choice and not something you are forced to get if you want to do M+ or high level raids / pvp.

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Lucky Jinx

Well, at least the covenants are clearly just another expansion specific system that will be thrown out the window with the rest of the dirty laundry as soon as the next expansion rolls out. I consider that a positive, really, because back in Draenor I believed, for a moment before becoming painfully aware, that garrisons would last and be improved upon.

Gotta say I’m not overly interested in the covenants at all. I want the new lands to explore and the new stories to enjoy, but then I’ll go back to my mount/pet collecting and forget the covenants and their silly problems that Blizzard managed to throw on themselves. These systems go away and get replaced by the next mess, but friends, mounts/pets are the one thing that you get to keep. :)

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PanagiotisLial1

Garrisons would be good if changed into being something closer to housing than a reason to grind. They stripped all the grinding systems and add storage, interactive cosmetic options etc

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

How is Hazzicostas still a game director, I’ll never know.

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Richard de Leon III

This will be my last expansion. Ive had it with earning abilities only for it to be taken away by the next one.

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Bannex

Old blizzard: shelved dance floor. New blizzard: frantically trying to find the code for dance floor.

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Bannex

Yay another crappy system that doesn’t contribute to fun unless you borderline exploit it (corruption). Can’t wait for all the half assed changes before they decide it’s Gud n’uff till the next xpac.

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Ald

Here’s a compromise:

Ditch these silly expansion only abilities nonsense. Give us new class abilities and talents instead.

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agemyth 😩

I totally buy the justifications for daring to add a meaningful choice in character development to this game where the only other meaningful choice was character class. As long as the Covenant stories/characters are good and the skills are more interesting than just another thing to spam in a rotation or an “oh sh–” button I think I will enjoy this for the duration of this expansion.

Are people really vehemently against making Covenants a big choice? I feel like I’m missing something because that, on paper, sounds good to me.

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Bruno Brito

The problem is execution. It’ll be terribly imbalanced and it’ll clearly be just a expansion thing, poising the next expansion to solve a issue that this one created.

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Jokerchyld

After a decade in of a known pattern, at what point do you just accept that WoW changes their systems every expansion? Complaining about something that is almost a staple in the game at this point is kind of moot no?

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Bruno Brito

Not really. If it’s wrong, we complain, and somewhere down the line, it changes.

How do you think Titanforging was removed?

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Dobablo

Meaningful choice in MMOs is bad. Either
1. There is no difference and the choice is meaningless
2. The choice is trivial and the answer is on Google
or
3. There is the potential for wrong choices leading to regret or punishing players that choose wrong.

Any game dev that is wedded to the noble concept of meaningful choice (and games are about interesting decisions), should be banned from working on MMOs.

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Jokerchyld

Meaningful choice from a gameplay perspective in an MMO would mean branching paths and that would be a nightmare to code and keep up. Semblance of choice, but single gameplay branch is the most optimal given the development investment of MMOs.

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Dobablo

Choice in an MMO is about giving playstyle options and activity. For them to be meaningful they need to make a material difference, but that is not possible because they will be impossible to balance and in MMOs the correct choice is the most overpowered choice.

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Jokerchyld

The problem comes in mostly for high end players who want the freedom to switch between convenants to get the specific ability they could use for a particular encounter. Then on the next encounter switch to soemthing else more useful giving the player agency (that Blizzard kept touting).

For some casuals its an issue of I really want THIS skill but its in THAT covenant that I dont aesthetically like leading to a tough choice that isn’t considered fun.

I think from Blizzards perspective (at least from what I read) they see this as “bad” because it removes the consequence of joining a convenant which is supposed to be a semi-permanent thing. Where I see they failed is separating the story/permeance part from the gameplay part, where as they have it now they are competiting for each other.

With Blizzard saying “we dont need to change anything” that is 1) the exact opposite of what they told us and 2) is a lie, considering they specifically said they had a “ripcord” to revert it.

Its just bad all around, especially from a PR standpoint.

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Utakata

So another expansion of, “Take this feature and shove it, I ain’t working here no more?” o.O

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Giggilybits

Sounds like they need to demote some people and get some new blood. BFA was a terrible expansion and whoever was in charge of this debacle should be held accountable.

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Bruno Brito

It was Ion.

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Jeremy Barnes

Hey, don’t blame it all on Ion. I’m sure he’s surrounded himself with other people just as willfully incompetent.

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Utakata

Although Ion should rebrand himself as Peter Principle’kostas at times. O.o

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Bruno Brito

I see them all as one singularity of incompetence called Ion.

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Jeremy Barnes

So, and this is important, is this like a spiritual oneness or is this a human centipede situation?

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Bruno Brito

It’s like a human ouroboros but instead of eating the other’s dump, they’re repgrinding.