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  3. Discussion -- Was I playing WoW "wrong" for all those years?

User Info: The_Abhorrent

The_Abhorrent
1 month ago#1
Is there are a "right" and "wrong" way to play WoW?



Well, may as well start with explaining my background a bit; I played WoW for well over a decade, starting about halfway through Vanilla until the tail end of WotLK, followed by another stint from about mid-MoP until the tail end of BfA. I enjoyed the game for most of those years, though my departure from the game after BfA definitely left me embittered towards what WoW had become over time. I would like WoW to be a game I could once again enjoy, so I've kept tabs on it despite having stopped playing it; however, it seems the game is only going further and further away from the experience I want from the game. At the same time, I've been playing FFXIV and enjoying that experience; it's hitting the notes I want to see, while WoW is no longer able to do so.

Over the past few weeks, we've seen a wave of WoW content creators try out FFXIV; that's here nor there, but one of them (Bellular, if you must know) made an interesting point for those who are curious about trying out FFXIV. To summarize his point:

Don't play FFXIV like you would play WoW.
Play FFXIV like a video game.

It does seem somewhat counter-intuitive, at first glance; it implies WoW isn't really a "video game". But upon closer examination, there is a grain of truth in there: over the years, WoW has been training its players to approach the game in a certain way by placing a huge amount of emphasis on chasing the carrot-on-a-stick (mostly gear, power and other rewards), optimization & efficiency to the extreme, and effective ignoring all the trimmings that one could normally associate with a game (such as the narrative). Heck, the plot of WoW often feels like it's removed from the game as major plot points and events only exist outside the game in novels and other "trans-media narratives"; the Saurfang story of BfA was more of a short film told through CGI cinematics and not properly woven into the game experience. Comparatively, FFXIV is often best approached as your usual story-driven JRPG (if a long one interspersed with the occasional bit of group content), which eventually opens up into an MMORPG world if you want to go for that aspect of the game.

Onto the point of this discussion... well, I've been playing video games of all genres since I was a young kid WAY before WoW even existed. When WoW came around during the mid-2000s, my idea of an RPG was shaped by prior experiences in the genre: mostly the single-player Final Fantasy games, with a dabbling of The Elder Scrolls for more "open world" type of RPGs. As such, I approached WoW with the objective of seeing the world and experiencing the story. There was some novelty to playing with other players, but it was just a novelty; to me, the "meat" of the game was the world and the story within it. Sure, there were stuff like dungeons and raids, and gear progression was always present... but it was never "the point" for me. In many ways, the game's ever-increasing push towards instanced group content and not putting enough into the world and plot (and what's there being of mediocre-at best quality) led to disillusionment and frustration

So looking at the suggestion that one play FFXIV "like a video game" instead of how one would approach WoW, let's flip that on it's head and ask the reverse of the question and apply it to WoW. Through sheer stubbornness and refusal to bow down to peer pressure, I refused to buy into how WoW "should" be played. Or perhaps more accurately, I sampled that sort of thing, didn't like it, and promptly stopped playing the game in a way I didn't enjoy. I tried to play it like I would play any other RPG based on my past experience, focusing on the world and the story; for a long time, I was reasonably satisfied with WoW's efforts despite wanting more out of them. The game's increasing focus on the stuff I didn't enjoy, to the point I was feeling forced to go through content I hated to see the ever-shrinking parts I did enjoy... well, enough was enough and I dropped the game.

Does all of that mean the way I approached WoW the wrong way for all these years?
A bit rambling, I realize... but it could be time to find some closure on this, once and for all.
He who isn't afraid to stand by his ideals...
Isn't afraid to stand alone.

User Info: MajinUltima

MajinUltima
1 month ago#2
I can't come here having the very specific context that too many WoW refugees to into something like FF14, play it wrong, and then whine about it not meeting their very misaimed expectations... and then completely discount the reverse.

That said, I don't think you could ruin your WoW experience going in blind, taking things in stride, etc. Like oh no, you were slower to level because you were playing content to completion, the horror!
Granted that is SO much less true after the many revamps of older content, it's impossible to organically experience things the way you could if you'd started prior to Activision, and prior to Cata especially. When I started WoW, I went in blind and exhausted a lot of zones and quests and ended up doing several attunement chains in Vanilla and BC. That's not the braindead "Rush to cap then enter Systemic Treadmill" experience that defines modern WoW, but in that case my WoW experience had arguably been improved by doing it wrong-ish.
I, of course, became far more efficient with alts but still farmed out almost every Loremaster achievement across my account as well.

I'd be hard pressed to call a richer journey experiencing more content from a perspective close to when it was relevant "wrong", at least not for a new player picking up the game. However, Activision clearly disagrees given the changes to levelling and that players can and will often just completely bypass entire eras of the game.
FF14 is like pre-Activision WoW, and especially more like before Cataclysm really overbuffing dungeons and how chain running dungeons and doing the quests at least once each skipped almost the entirety of pre-Cata content. You barely would've had to touch non-dungeon Wrath to reach Cata, just from doing each dungeon+quests once each.
Back in Wrath, aside from ditching the zones at 58 and 68 and not having to grind out any of Vanilla and BC's endgame, you pretty much had to do a huge amount of Vanilla, several zones worth, and the bulk of Outland, before then having to do the bulk of Wrath. I don't even think level boosts existed until Cata, really driving home the fact that you had to do a lot of the content.

I think it's less about "playing something wrong" and more about "setting the wrong expectations for what the experience can be like". If you have the wrong expectations and play according to unrealistic expectations, for any game, then you're probably going to be playing wrong and to your detriment. And the problem is on the expectations.
It wasn't a big deal for me with WoW, I'd experienced it before Cata cut or turned most of it into dated memes, such that by the time Cata rolled around I was speeding through alts anyway.
Herein I commit the chronicle of the traveler. Shepherd to the stars in the dark. Where you walk, my dearest friend, fate shall surely follow.

User Info: Tacoman561

Tacoman561
1 month ago#3
There's no objective "right" or "wrong" way to play the game as a whole, though there is a subjective "right" or "wrong" way to play the game based on the goals you set for yourself. If you're mythic raiding and aiming to get Cutting Edge every tier, then hitting the level cap and trying to go immediately into a mythic raid with the gear you've obtained while leveling, that could be called "wrong," because no CE raid team would take you into a raid, and even if you managed to set up your own 20-man team and went into a mythic raid with gear obtained from leveling, you simply won't have the damage, health pools, defenses, healing, etc. to survive encounters and kill bosses. You could also have less than optimal gear, talents, etc. for what you're doing; for example, if you're tanking a raid boss in an encounter that only has one enemy throughout the entire fight that hits very hard, but you're using gear and talents that will have you sacrificing defensive power against one target to gain offensive power against several enemies(as you might do in dungeons to hold threat easier), it's going to feel like you're playing "wrong."

But, at the end of the day, it's a game. The point of a game is to have fun, so I guess the "right" way to play is doing whatever in the game is fun for you.
I wanna be the very best, but I'd settle for pretty average.

User Info: Sir Cyrus

Sir Cyrus
1 month ago#4
The_Abhorrent posted...
I enjoyed the game for most of those years

Then you did it right
Sigless for now.

User Info: The_Abhorrent

The_Abhorrent
1 month ago#5
MajinUltima posted...
I can't come here having the very specific context that too many WoW refugees to into something like FF14, play it wrong, and then whine about it not meeting their very misaimed expectations... and then completely discount the reverse.

[...]

I think it's less about "playing something wrong" and more about "setting the wrong expectations for what the experience can be like". If you have the wrong expectations and play according to unrealistic expectations, for any game, then you're probably going to be playing wrong and to your detriment. And the problem is on the expectations.

You're definitely onto something there... and perhaps that is the bigger question, at what point did my expectations sudden become misaligned with the experience of WoW as a whole?

Well, it's no secret that BfA was my breaking point... but the idea of seeing the world and experiencing the story still held up reasonably well from Vanilla all the way up through Legion (despite skipping out on Cata entirely). While never quite meeting the level I wanted to see, there was a slow and steady improvement; the "best" content WoW ever had from my perspective was Suramar, an endgame zone wholly dedicated to the story. Legion in general, despite its many other issues, was a decent expansion for the plot with all the class-specific campaigns and other stuff.

... BfA was, for the first time, a definite step backwards in that regard. For a player wanting to experience the story and explore the world, that expansion was disappointment after disappointment. SL seemed to make a few steps in the right direction, but it wasn't enough for me to pick the game back up... especially since it was still carrying a lot of negative baggage BfA had.

Tacoman561 posted...
If you're mythic raiding and aiming to get Cutting Edge every tier, then hitting the level cap and trying to go immediately into a mythic raid with the gear you've obtained while leveling, that could be called "wrong," because no CE raid team would take you into a raid, and even if you managed to set up your own 20-man team and went into a mythic raid with gear obtained from leveling, you simply won't have the damage, health pools, defenses, healing, etc. to survive encounters and kill bosses. You could also have less than optimal gear, talents, etc. for what you're doing; for example, if you're tanking a raid boss in an encounter that only has one enemy throughout the entire fight that hits very hard, but you're using gear and talents that will have you sacrificing defensive power against one target to gain offensive power against several enemies(as you might do in dungeons to hold threat easier), it's going to feel like you're playing "wrong."

Perhaps an odd question... but why do people always default to using this type of argument as an example, particularly when I try to stress that aspect of the game has little appeal to me?

I'm not interested in raiding, period... in fact, I don't care for group content in WoW at all. I've legitimately enjoyed doing questing and exploring the world (but as noted before, despite always hoping that it would get better), generally only venturing into dungeons and raids to complete quests and progress the story. Heck, I probably did group content more for transmog farming than gear progression.

The only real "goals" I had set for WoW was to see the story and the world... and after BfA being a MASSIVE disappointment in that area, along with a forced grind attached to it? Well, even meeting those relatively easy-to-meet goals stopped being "fun" and the payoff simply wasn't worth it. I suppose a new player could still find enjoyment in all of those old activities and seeing the world for the first time, but those days are long passed for me.
He who isn't afraid to stand by his ideals...
Isn't afraid to stand alone.
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: redundancies

redundancies
1 month ago#6
The_Abhorrent posted...
Don't play FFXIV like you would play WoW.
Play FFXIV like a video game.
One should play WoW "like a video game" too since that's what it is.

The_Abhorrent posted...
It does seem somewhat counter-intuitive, at first glance; it implies WoW isn't really a "video game". But upon closer examination, there is a grain of truth in there: over the years, WoW has been training its players to approach the game in a certain way by placing a huge amount of emphasis on chasing the carrot-on-a-stick (mostly gear, power and other rewards), optimization & efficiency to the extreme, and effective ignoring all the trimmings that one could normally associate with a game (such as the narrative). Heck, the plot of WoW often feels like it's removed from the game as major plot points and events only exist outside the game in novels and other "trans-media narratives"; the Saurfang story of BfA was more of a short film told through CGI cinematics and not properly woven into the game experience. Comparatively, FFXIV is often best approached as your usual story-driven JRPG (if a long one interspersed with the occasional bit of group content), which eventually opens up into an MMORPG world if you want to go for that aspect of the game.
Carrot on a stick gameplay, optimization, and efficiency are all completely valid methods of traversing a video game. People will speedrun games, they'll look for optimal paths, they'll min-max their characters if they can.

Also, the story in WoW isn't some monolith. You have the overarching story of "Jailer bad", but you also have the zone specific stories (played out through both the leveing quests and the covenant campaigns), and the stories of individual denizens of the Shadowlands like Ve'nari or prominent members of the covenants. It's very easy to enjoy some parts of the story even if you don't enjoy other parts.

User Info: The_Abhorrent

The_Abhorrent
1 month ago#7
redundancies posted...
One should play WoW "like a video game" too since that's what it is.

Really? The vast majority of video games are NOT approached with the idea of optimization and efficiency in mind; nor repetition, when you think about it. When first playing any given game, you're usually expected to learn and experience the game; sometimes there's a single curated difficulty, sometimes it's adjustable to suit the player's tastes. WoW may very well be the only RPG I can think of which actively pushes/encourages its players towards optimization and efficiency as the default playstyle; the rest of them lean more towards "see everything" in some form or another, and leave it at that.

You only really see the optimization mindset come into play when you see some players speedrun games, but that's usually long as the "initial phase" of the game is long since passed... and it is ALWAYS due to the player choosing to go down that route. No real issue with others choosing to do that, but no one should realistically be expecting that to be the default way of playing the game.

I suppose that's the thing with the expectations again... I pick up the game to approach it with the intent of seeing the world and the story, but even the most basic of content is hampered by some need for efficiency and unnecessary busy work. Much of the desire for efficiency is simply because most of the baseline content for the game is so rote and boring, everyone wants it done and over with as quickly as possible so that they can move onto "the good stuff".

I was expecting nothing more than the baseline content to be enjoyable on its own, without any strings or grinds attached. All I can see is an overly systematized game that seems to have come to the conclusion that the only "enjoyment" players have is getting power progression and rewards, and it rations those out over grinds which it tries to drag out as long as possible... or it damn well feels that way.

redundancies posted...
Also, the story in WoW isn't some monolith. You have the overarching story of "Jailer bad", but you also have the zone specific stories (played out through both the leveing quests and the covenant campaigns), and the stories of individual denizens of the Shadowlands like Ve'nari or prominent members of the covenants. It's very easy to enjoy some parts of the story even if you don't enjoy other parts.

Now if only I could care about ANY portion of it... because you haven't exactly been making a compelling case for it. If anything, you're make the plot and characters sound generic and under-developed.

It is possible that I'm not giving the expansion a fair shake... but at the same time, I see no reason to.
He who isn't afraid to stand by his ideals...
Isn't afraid to stand alone.
(edited 1 month ago)

User Info: redundancies

redundancies
1 month ago#8
The_Abhorrent posted...
Really? The vast majority of video games are NOT approached with the idea of optimization and efficiency in mind; nor repetition, when you think about it.
Optimization, efficiency and repetition are fun for a lot of people. And when a game is 17 years old, it's a lot different than one that's brand new, which is why you not only see these factors in retail, you see them in classic too.

The_Abhorrent posted...
I suppose that's the thing with the expectations again... I pick up the game to approach it with the intent of seeing the world and the story, but even the most basic of content is hampered by some need for efficiency and unnecessary busy work. Much of the desire for efficiency is simply because most of the baseline content for the game is so rote and boring, everyone wants it done and over with as quickly as possible so that they can move onto "the good stuff".
You don't need to be efficient at all to see the world and the base content. World enemies, normal dungeons and Raid Finder raids are all very easy and with a very low gear threshold. You can see just about all the story with just leveling up, doing the max level story quests and running Torghast a few times.

The only people who want to "move on quickly to get to the 'good stuff'" are raid loggers. Don't listen to their opinions if raiding isn't what you want out of the game.

The_Abhorrent posted...
Now if only I could care about ANY portion of it... because you haven't exactly been making a compelling case for it. If anything, you're make the plot and characters sound generic and under-developed.
I tend to be pretty succinct in my descriptions of events, so judging the story based on my summary is like judging [your favorite movie] from the blurb on your Netflix queue.

The storylines (outside of "world ending yet again oh no") are very compelling to me, and as I've stated before the denizens of the Shadowlands are just oozing with personality. Admitted bias, but my favorite was the Ysera re-awakening, I could do that chain a dozen times and not get tired of it.

User Info: Raze_Razel

Raze_Razel
1 month ago#9
The_Abhorrent posted...
Is there are a "right" and "wrong" way to play WoW?

Not really "a way", but a certain "frame of mind" when approaching MMOs overall.

MMOs of yore were simple to understand, by knowing that the more dedication you put into your character, the sweeter the rewards will be. Either by gaining those epic gear, or even just having a palpable gaming experience of seeing 40 people take down high-end content.

But as time went by, "somewhere" "someone" thought it was a good idea to streamline these experiences for the players who entered the game thinking it's just like every other videogame they played on their consoles. Quick and easy, plug in play experiences. And worse, that "someone" listened to those people.....and the entire genre of MMOs has been in decline.....these wrong people never entered into the game with the "right frame of mind", and instead chose to whine and cry to get the foundation of the game changed in their favor; but at the cost of the integrity of the game itself.

They couldn't be happy being midcore players with midcore rewards, they wanted to be midcore player with high-end rewards....that doesn't work in real life, it shouldn't work like that in any game.

--- have I done it? Have I derailed another thread with logic and facts?

User Info: Wyldefyr

Wyldefyr
1 month ago#10
Raze_Razel posted...


They couldn't be happy being midcore players with midcore rewards, they wanted to be midcore player with high-end rewards....that doesn't work in real life, it shouldn't work like that in any game.
That arguement falls apart when it is something we both pay for. If you and I both buy a steak dinner,from the same place, for the same price, we should get equivalent meals. If I were a pro gamer, getting paid to play, I would 100% agree with you. But when I am paying to play,(Buying expacs, paying for sub either with money or tokens.) there is a certain expectation that I will get a certain value from what I paid. I personally feel like that means I should be able to at least experience all the content the game has to offer. Do I want M+15 or Mythic raid gear? No. But I should not be locked out of story content and zones just because I am not top tier. That is why I am glad for the different difficulties for dungeons and raids.
Did I just hear myself say...three minutes?
(edited 1 month ago)
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