It’s been a few months since the start of the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth and I have to say things have changed in the way I view and consume the game since the last time I wrote.
Years ago, I spent every moment I could spare in Azeroth and would have a routine to follow daily, such as daily quests—replaced by world quests now—daily heroic dungeon and some herb grinding for making potions and such. I would also wander aimlessly around the world, flying around without a care and joined my guild in raids every single week, no matter how many times we’d already cleared the current content. It was a grind, for sure, but I had no issues with it, I enjoyed it or at least didn’t mind it, no matter how many months it took for new content to arrive.
That has changed now and I can’t do the grinding anymore. A part of it is a matter of convenience. In those expansions, years ago, the moment you hit max level you unlocked the ability to fly in the new regions. Then about two expansions ago they decided to change that so that flight became available on acquiring some extremely grindy achievements in two separate content patches, focused partly on exploration, which is fine, and the other part on reaching high ranks in faction reputations, which I really hate. This means that for the most part you can only use ground mounts and flight paths, and it means having to contend with monsters along the way, which takes some of the joy of travel out of it for me and makes the herb gathering a more tiresome affair than before—and yes, I have the mount that makes that a nuisance more than a problem and as a druid I have about a dozen get-out-of-jail moves.
The other side is that over the past three years or so, I’ve just lost the appetite for endless grinding. There’s a limit now on how many times I can do some dungeons or a given raid before I am thoroughly bored and the item drops just don’t matter anymore. The loot grind loses its appeal at that point. I’m all for the grind while there’s a goal, while we’re still working our way towards clearing the raid. Once we’ve accomplished that, I begin to lose interest and finally reach the point of no return when we manage to clear the place in one or two sittings, one or two raid nights. At that point, it’s enough for me and I’ll bow out. Let someone else in the guild take the spot if they like.
Last expansion, Legion, which was superb on all fronts, mind you, even with the aforementioned flight achievements, also introduced another way on consuming the content and it’s one that I didn’t play much with in Legion but have done so more than enough in Battle for Azeroth to thoroughly hate it, Mythic Plus dungeons.
Mythic Dungeons came in as a new layer of difficulty for the classic heroic dungeons, with changed mechanics or simply plenty more damage and health for bosses. Mythic dungeons were a fine entry point for raids, serving as a middle ground between your regular heroic dungeon gear and the one dropped in the earliest raids.
But then the Plus came in, timed dungeon runs. Each plus has a keystone that tells you the “level” of the run, similar to the rifts in Diablo 3. The higher the rank, the higher the item levels in the rewards, with +10 or so giving you the same level items as heroic raiding gear—which miffs me quite a bit, as I’ve always felt raids, in most if not all its forms, should be the upper echelon of loot.
Mythic Plus is the new endgame grind along with raids, and perhaps done in greater frequency, as it just requires a group of 5 people. And considering you can get raid-level gear, if you want to stay competitive in raiding aka top those damage meters—one thing I used to care about—it means that grinding mythic plus dungeons and getting ever higher keystones becomes if not a necessity, then something highly recommended.
But it’s another grind and one I find so thoroughly dull I can’t bring myself to complete even one of them. For it’s not just the added difficulty from the dungeon level but also affixes, keywords that change the behaviour of enemies, bosses and even the dungeons themselves and there isn’t a single one among them that isn’t a massive pain in the rear. From bosses have more health and damage, to trash mobs having the same, to enemies spawning new things and damaging pools appearing below your feet at any given point or monsters simply exploding or gaining more power if others die, the dungeon runs become exercises in frustration.
Some people might love them, the only pleasure I gain from them is watching the Mythic Dungeon tournaments that Blizzard runs, as I find actually doing them about as pleasant as hitting furniture with my pinkie toe.
Azerite gear continues to be about as exciting as Vogon Poetry and will continue to be that way until the Azshara raid where they’ll effectively get rid of it, unlock all traits in the armour pieces and make the currently incredibly bland Heart of Azeroth necklace the focus of the system, unlocking new abilities and such. Maybe when that happens this particular grind will feel even remotely worthwhile. Right now though, there’s not enough gold out there on Azeroth to make me do this! Especially those Island Expeditions. They’re all different places but it’s the same goddamn gameplay and it’s a really boring one. You go on the island, kill a gazillion random monsters, collect a bunch of Azerite in a race against AI members of the opposing faction. It’s basically what you already do out in the world but taken to the worst extreme. I’d prefer if they were minigame-like scenarios, one with vehicles, the other platforming. Go nuts, make it interesting, leave the boring island exploration with monster hunting and faction squashing for the PVP folk.
So with all of the above, my desire to be raid-competitive evaporated and my time on Azeroth has been a lot more casual lately. I only log on once a day, or once every few days, depending on if there are any worthwhile rewards for the daily quest “emissaries.” I then complete my daily quests, gather some herbs along the way and that’s it. I’ve not done a single raid or dungeon since the last time I did them months ago and won’t do any of them until the new content releases. The patch maybe be live now, 8.1, but the raids aren’t live yet so my guild is still hitting away at the launch content, of which I’m just completely and utterly bored.
And that’s where we are now. I still love the game, but I just can’t stand the endless grinding anymore. I’d rather go and clear some of my gaming backlog, write a story, have a D&D session or anything else the mind can conjure instead of grinding in WoW for a single minute more than it’s absolutely necessary.