Friday, November 7, 2008

Can we get some gear balance this time?

From IGN's WotLK "preview":

So how soon will you be replacing all your gear from Burning Crusade? We'll have to wait and see.

Heck of a preview there. Thanks guys.

Still, this does raise the part of BC that bugged me the most. After my first major WoW hiatus, I came back determined not to buy BC until I'd finished a few things on my old TODO list, like up my rep with the Thorium Brotherhood, grab my Pattern: Lava Belt and Pattern: Molten Helm, and make PHAT LOOT!

Luckily I came back just before BC's release, and I managed to cash in, but just barely. Aside from a little naive buying, prices for Old World craftables dove like there'd been a housing bubble after BC arrived. And after buying BC, I could tell why. The quest loot was so phat, there was no reason to keep my hard earned craftables and purples around any more.

Burning Crusade forced players to upgrade. I should argue that in more detail, but for now I won't. The bottom line is that BC provided unique shortcuts to power that did not, imo, greatly improve gameplay. Instead, it created another system of virtual ghettos back in WoW's Old World. Endgames shifted. Years of development time for instances, etc, rendered worthless. Those new to WoW or who hadn't seen the OW end game had no real incentive to go back.

There were options. Create mobs that have a new attack type or one for which there was little resistance gear in the OW, kinda like fire resist was used in the original. Keep the progression of items natural, and ensure items (other than just epics) continue to have some important value in the future. Here, I'm thinking about something like the Illdari-Bane items -- perhaps there's a mob in the WotLK that can only be damaged by items that specifically harm demons by 150 or more points. Bam, you're dropping Wrath folk back into BC storylines. And, honestly, there's no reason not to put some check in the game that can tell when level 75s are dropping in to grab the Lexicon Demonica from Grandmaster Vorpil and up the difficulty a bit.

I realize the achievement system is supposed to help fix the obsolescence issue, but so were heroic dungeons. I'm not optimistic that WotLK will be much different, in practice, than BC (though honestly it's no big loss to me this time. Aside from the blood elf zones, I didn't find much in BC that I couldn't do without).

In a strange twist, complete obsolescence isn't a boon to the publisher, like it is when Microsoft kills Word 97. Here, there are rendered instances, ready for just a little tweaking before they're efficiently eating up monthly fees from addicted ur, happy players. I hope Blizzard gets it right this time.