Yes, this is *that* post. I have been dragged back into World of Warcraft to play through the Mists questing content with my partner. Our Draenei pair (my Shaman and his Mage) are reunited once more.
On one level it is great to be back in the game. It is still the smoothest gameplay experience around on some levels – the smooth response of the game engine, the general feeling of high polish is still there. The questing is very enjoyable and very varied – this is surprising but after playing SWTOR, LoTRO and Rift over the one year I have stayed away from WoW it is noticeable. For good or bad the ‘vehicle’ quests and other activities in the game are far more varied than the norm in other games. At times during Wrath and Cataclysm I felt it had gone too far and that I was rarely actually playing my character, but from all I’ve heard of Mists that has been balanced better once more.
On the other hand I’m battling against my dissatisfaction with all the changes. I really dislike Balance druid now, it feels like a ‘glass-cannon’ class without decent crowd control – yes you have lots of options but none of them last long enough to kill a monster. So you have to constantly be juggling snares and push-backs to try and avoid even the weakest monsters smacking you to the floor. Similarly shamans of all stripes have had their main flavour concept of totems ‘nerfed’, clearly it was too hard for us to choose a set of four and auto-lay them with one button. All of the longer-lasting totems are gone now – we’re left with a greatly reduced handful of emergency spells that provide a quick boost to damage, health or mana. Finally even paladins have undergone a similar treatment with holy power fueled abilities no longer scaling, each has a fixed cost now. But despite this, it’s easy enough to learn the new version of these classes – that was always a strength of WoW I guess.
At present I have no specific plans beyond leveling one or two characters. My new main is my Draenei shaman, who is healer/elemental dual spec. He was one of my most beloved characters in the past, more fleshed out actually than my original main (the Boomkin in this blog’s title image). He ended up as a cook, a scribe (inscription profession) and he even dabbled in archeology briefly (urgghhh!!!). Naturally in Mists he has already skipped ahead to start his farm.
Another reason for me re-joining the game is that I’ve been vicariously raiding for months now, i.e. watching my partner raid through Cataclysm and now into Mists. Personally I’m not that interested in raiding but it has given me a very good impression of the more active people in his guild. Having spent nearly a year in various games, playing solo or in dying guilds and depopulating servers it is *very* nice to be back in a buzzing game and a
large-ish guild that has long-term stability.
I guess in the end, however much as a blogger and observer of MMOs I might criticize the mechanics of WoW and that I might prefer the housing in EQ2, the open grouping in Rift or the active combat of Guild Wars 2; the great group of people I can play with in WoW trumps all of that.
I will continue to level my main character in Rift, but since I’m not interested in the ‘dungeon->heroic->raid’ end-game (same for SWTOR), that journey will probably end at the new level 60 cap. I do want us to get characters to 80 in Guild Wars 2 as well, we’re at 69 now so not so far away. Guild Wars 2 is likely to be the game we play together alongside WoW in the longer-term, if nothing else for the cool events.