Then there was Cataclysm. That was where the love/hate relationship I had with the game really came to light. Starting with the changes to healing that the developers first introduced and then abandoned almost immediately, and progressing through most of that expansion pack the time wasting nature of most of the effort involved in the game which came to be summarized with the word Murglesnout. I almost canceled my script during that expansion pack, and I only stayed because I really wanted to finish my long quest, something I have finally done.
Through all of Cataclysm there was one thing I actually liked; I could fly (there were a few other things as well, but) I could fly all the time, everywhere. Well I couldn't fly in the world PvP areas, but then PvP is my least favorite part of the game and don't even level toons on PvP servers. But I could fly everywhere else in the game, and that suited me fine.
Then came Mists of Pandaria. Once again, like at the beginning of Wrath of Lich King, the artificial limitation of required ground movement was imposed on the players, and this time that limitation wasn't lifted for alternate characters on the same account, making the grind of leveling characters a grind in truth. At least flight was allowed for endgame characters, so I could purchase flight capability for all 22 of my toons by the end of that expansion.
When Warlords of Draenor was announced, I started hearing some troubling rumblings on the forums. Rumors that the developers might not include flight in this expansion pack, not even for endgame characters. As far as I was concerned, this was completely the wrong direction for game development, and I took to the forums again with a few choice posts;
Allow Flight in WoD From the Beginning (this link leads nowhere. Fair warning)
For my nickel, I consider it poor programming to continue to ground flying mounts just because the programmers can't figure out how to make flying available without removing the challenge of the game. As it is I don't see the point in paying for faster flight (ever) since I won't be allowed to fly at all until Blizzard decides we've paid them long enough to make it worth their while to give flight back to us.
It's simple enough to knock players off of riding mounts, I don't see the problem with knocking them off flying mounts, aside from the same frustration that is incurred from allowing players to be knocked off mounts at all. Either you have to fly so high you can't see the terrain, or you dive low enough to risk being knocked off by whatever. It's a game. Rez and run, it isn't painful.
Funny thing; I remember when this used to happen in Outland. Rather than complain to GM's about my own stupidity at flying where I shouldn't be, I learned to pay attention to where I was on the map so as to avoid being dismounted. Problem solved, all it takes is not being stupid.
Same case here. I get that it's a pain to have to fight when dismounted, or die when dismounted in the air if you can't damage mitigate. Now I could whine and cry about it and demand they make the game easier and thusly be bored sooner, or I could stick to my original suggestion that they not cripple the game by disabling functions that I see as an essential part of gameplay.
What I'd like is for the developers to treat flying as part of the game experience and not a perk to be handed out to endgame players.
What I want is for them to finally embrace the fact that flying is part of WoW and stop pretending we have to plod in order to be immersed (whatever that is. Covered in flies, mud and sweat?) in the game world. The most annoying part of play in Mists of Pandaria was seeing areas that I could not get to because perfectly usable flying mounts were not allowed to be used until reaching 90 because someone was convinced the game was more fun seen from the ground. It's grindy-er and more boring that way, not more fun.None of this content still exists on the forums. Tons and tons of feedback that could have profited the game developers was deleted carte blanche by the forum moderators in vain attempts to mute complaints by disgruntled beta players. Players like Jandarus who posted the following;
You *can* design a world where flying is an option. It's more complex, more expensive, but Blizzard have both the time and the funding to do it. They *choose* not to, because the fastest and easiest route for them is to simply disable flying.But the expansion rolled out just as it was presented in the beta version, including the highly inadequate improvements to my characters that I documented during the beta. I did eventually find acceptable new faces for most of my toons, however the cosmetic problems with the game are far outweighed by the other structural changes to the game.
Imagine a tower with an objective inside. Players on ground mounts ride up to the doors and fight their way through the rooms in order. Stealthy players get the option to evade the mobs, but have challenges around timing of patrols and mobs that can detect stealthed players. Flyers get to fly in to the top floor and fight a different set of mobs to the objective. Maybe with anti-flyer guns on the way.
Don't get me wrong. I really wanted to like this version of the game. Being essentially a retcon of content first imagined in the expansion for Warcraft II, Warlords of Draenor goes into more depth than was ever possible given the limitations of the far more primitive computer systems available in the mid-90's, and the constraints of a strictly RTS game. It really is engaging gameplay, and the changes to the various classes all seem to be pretty well balanced and streamline spell usage and rotations.
However, they've broken professions in their attempts to simplify gameplay. None of the professions offer perks for having them unless you are into rare mounts. Since you are limited to three crafted items equipped at the same time, maintaining professions that were useful for gearing in past expansions is pointless. I now have upwards of nine Engineers in game, since engineering provides repair and resupply NPC's as part of the profession. It is really the only profession worth pursuing any longer in a general sense.
Don't even get me started when it comes to the fresh hell that they've turned Cooking, Fishing and First Aid into. First off, you can't just go and learn new cooking recopies, you have to taste them or cook something else to get them (randomly) so forget just cooking things you need. But let's say you decide you want to fish and then cook that. That's a funny thought, really. I learned cooking while fishing with most of my original toons. Now you can't cook fish; or rather, you can't cook them until you clean them, and you can't clean just one. No, you have to catch 5, 10 or 20 fish of a particular size and type, and then you can clean that pile of fish. Then you have to hope you have a recipe for them (if it's Saberfish you will) and then you can cook those fish. Some fish turn into first aid items so you'll need those fish to level that secondary prof, which is actually more useful if more maddening. Why maddening? Because you can't just make bandaids as you did in all other versions of the game. No, you need to catch those fish and make them into healing tonic to level. Never mind there really isn't cloth drops any longer, now it's a fur from beasts but I don't want to go down that rabbit hole just now.
Suffice it to say that my pastime for 6 years, fishing is something I just don't do any longer. Which is too bad because there are some really nice rare drops if you have the infinite patience required to find them.
The one good thing about professions is that the rest of them are so useless now, Archaeology is almost interesting by contrast. So there is that bright shining moment to enjoy. The only reason to play multiple toons (characters) now is to test the various classes and playstyles. Not really motivation enough for me.
The garrison was another facet of the game that the developers pinned a lot of hopes on. That too seems to have backfired. There is now no reason to ever leave your garrison. Most players never do except to get into group efforts, which returns you directly back to your garrison as soon as the group event is done. The garrisons themselves are entertaining for awhile. Some of the buildings (especially the engineering building that gives you a perk each day) are quite fun to to fiddle with and give valuable gear for you and your followers.
...Followers being one of the more puzzling introductions to this game, almost as if it wants to be an RTS like it's original version was. I just don't understand their purpose in the game, but it is entertaining sending them all out on quests then running out of your HQ to watch them all file out the gates and play the game for you.
The first official patch (6.1) for this expansion went live Feb 24, 2015. As of this writing, I had yet to really log on and do anything beyond snooping through a few toons burning cooldowns; pretty much all I do anymore. There are some nice improvements in this patch. More skins for the improved character models. A way to share the heirloom gear that radically speeds up leveling for alternate toons. Improved heirlooms that now can be used through level 100.
Don't really care.
I have a 100 for both factions now. I've played through both sides of the game, explored most of the garrison buildings, run the LFR for the first raid. I'll eventually run the LFR for the second raid, and dabble in the PvP before I finally do what I threatened to do in Cataclysm. I'm canceling my subscription to World of Warcraft for the first time in 5 years. I have better things to do with the monthly premium for server access if I'm not going to play the game content; and it has become clear that I'm not.
I did log on and spend eighty thousand gold on heirloom upgrades for the toons that I haven't leveled to 100, current endgame level. I will make that confession. I have (had) upwards of 400 thousand gold in game across 22+ toons. I think it was a good investment considering what unspent money in a game you aren't playing is actually worth.
I have the distinct feeling that the game developers are resting on the games popularity, not pushing themselves to actually find the boundaries of gameplay with the new systems and faster internet speeds. World of Warcraft remains essentially the same game it was more than a decade ago, and I think I've played that game long enough. Time for something new.