I’m sorry I gotta. I just read today’s The Queue on Blizzard Watch and there was a question basically saying “haven’t played in a bit, what should I do?” and the suggestion said “quickest way to gear up” and then “fill any gear holes” and then “group content aka mythic+” and I just looked at it and went really?
Blogging about stuff is actually super cool because I have an archive which goes back to early 2012 and I’d already been playing Warcraft for about three years at that point. So I don’t have my perspective from day one but I do have my transition from solo player —> pick-up raid healer —> raid healer —> raid tank —> raid leader/main tank —> solo player.
It’s funny considering how much raid tanking I wound up doing, and how much I preferred it to healing, that I have an article from 2012 explaining how much I hated raid tanking. You see actually I never hated it, it’s just that it scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. Once I got to the point that I felt I could do better than the PUGs my guild was forced to call in, I realized that I wanted to tank and then I really grew to enjoy it.
But anyway this is my point about the archive. I’ve written dozens of posts about Warcraft over the years and while I’m too lazy to find it, I know that I wrote a post in Mists about how I couldn’t gear my alts without raiding and how that had sucked a lot of the enjoyment out of the game. I also know I wrote a post in Warlords (before I quit for 2 years) bemoaning how gear was RNG-potluck and there was very little outside LFR (I have never liked LFR) etc. etc.
I wrote another post after I came back about the time the final Legion patch dropped. I’d had a two and a half year break from the game and my mentality had completely shifted. To be honest these days I don’t even know what the best stat for my class/spec is. I look at the pretty red/green numbers to see if it’s higher or lower and I equip if it’s green – this is the extent to which I think about gear aka pretty much not at all.
IF I was dying all the time then sure I’d look for how I could get gear so I could actually, you know, play the game but as I’m not it’s a big /shrug because I do not care. When I came back for Warlords after my 9 month break post-Garrosh kill, I still had a raiders mentality. I was very focused on gear, how I could get it, how I could better my gear etc.
When I came back for Legion, I guess the gap had been long enough that my mentality had shifted and this is the point of my post right here:
Breaking Warcraft down in simple play terms – you hit buttons and stuff dies. You hit different buttons on different classes, and the mobs/environment looks different, but basically the gameplay for combat stuff is identical.
The game only has hours of playability due to other factors. I got burned out which is why I took a break because logging alts felt pointless, I was just hitting different buttons. There has to be something that keeps it fresh. Now for some people that is the chasing/acquisition of increasingly better gear. That is what they focus on and they can be ruthlessly efficient about it.
HOWEVER (it’s a big but!)
I complained back in the day, might have been Mists, might have been Warlords, I can’t remember, that blizz had gutted the game. That it was “raid or die” as if you didn’t want to raid, there was nothing for you. These days? Oh man these days that is just simply not true and to be honest I don’t think it ever was, it’s just easier for me to see the options now.
While I was on my break blizz introduced the wardrobe system – look at all those transmog items I can go for! and I get achievements for them! I get to complete the sets! (I’m a completionist). They added more ‘Raiding with Leashes’, they added profession quests and class quests, there’s lots of mounts and pets to chase etc. etc.
The other day I half-complained about the unlock requirements for Kul Tiran because I can’t do Mythics BUT I am fine with it because I love that there are unlock requirements. I love that there are quest-chains to bring them in to the fold, I love that there is the heritage armor reward for levelling them. It’s flavour and it helps open my eyes to the wider game. Battle for Azeroth is the seventh expansion – it’s a huge game, there is so much content there and blizz has been busy providing access points to all of it. I love that there are reasons to go to pretty much everywhere because it provides such a varied gameplay.
Gear is cold. Gear will quickly become outdated and useless. I find chasing gear quite empty because it’s a treadmill exercise. Whereas crossing off achievements, or collecting mounts/pets/transmog/toys etc. is also an endless task but what I’ve got is never wiped away. I can make progress and that I think is the important thing. I complained in Mists because I missed the points system (justice/valor) because I could run dungeons on my alts and after a few runs I could buy a new piece of gear. It felt like I was achieving something with my time. That is usually the argument people use about why acquiring gear feels good – because it feels like you’ve done something.
I still agree, I mean new gear is cool because it opens up new opportunities. I haven’t tried soloing anything particularly hard yet but when I do, getting better gear might make it possible/make it easier. Gear does serve a purpose but I guess what I’m arguing here is that it doesn’t have to be the end goal. The game doesn’t just revolve around gear, not with all the collection tabs/achievements. There are other end goals and to be honest they are a lot less stressful. Chasing gear is like I said a treadmill and it’s not for everyone. I got off that ride and while I’m nostalgic for my raiding days I wouldn’t want a repeat.
So I guess what I’m saying is my answer to that question would have been different. It wouldn’t have centred around gear. I probably would have said “pick up the war campaign” or “check your reputations” because to me seeing whether the unlock requirements for the allied races are complete, or I think flying is coming relatively soon, that’s more important – that opens up options, gear is just gear. I would have asked a question back “what are you missing that you’d like? what do you feel like working on?”
TLDR: Gear isn’t everything. Also keep your sense of wonder. Look at the world and see the amazing environments. Zoom in and check out the animations. Listen to all the cool voice acting and immerse yourself in the story. Alternately – chase gear! Because everyone is different and ultimately just play the game however you want, and do what makes you happy 🙂