What’s your game?

I’ve never been as good at blogging here as I hoped. In the beginning this was my Warcraft blog, and then I expanded it to Swtor and Marvel Heroes (and not bothered changing the header since). I now ramble about all kinds of things. I mean let’s not pretend otherwise, these are rambles. I pretend like there’s a difference as I separate out my copied over tumblr rambles from the ‘real’ blog posts, but really they are much the same stylistically. In the beginning I think I tried to make them more legit – just as I tried to keep a blog theme – but this is what it’s become. As this is basically my private ramble spot, as I don’t think anyone reads these even if they are technically publicly accessible, I guess it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, I’m not too sure why that was on my mind as an intro but it feels related somewhat because this is a blog post about Warcraft, and about approach I guess.

I have made a number of posts about Warcraft over the years. If you track back through them you’ll see I change my opinions about some things. I’ve been playing this game on/off for a long time (since January 2010) and as I have changed, the game has changed. There have been times I’ve felt the game has become incompatible with me, and that was the case recently.

Why I unsubscribed?
I have hit the unsubscribe button on Warcraft 4x but to date it’s only lapsed the twice. The first time was after I finally got the ‘Ahead of the Curve’ for Garrosh Hellscream back in Mists. Over 150 wipes, 4 nights a week for 3 hours a time. Boggles my mind now how I did that for months but it came at a cost – I burned out. I got the kill and quit soon after. I think that was a long content drought so I came back around 9 months later for the Warlords pre-patch.

I didn’t vibe with Warlords. I disliked how they had introduced so much ‘randomness’ to the gearing stats. It was next to impossible to gear up outside raids and I didn’t want to raid. I know I have blogged about this at length, but it’s worth mentioning because of the “randomness” point. I quit again around the time of the first Warlords patch as I just didn’t see the point in sticking around any longer.

Two and a half years later I got nostalgic, and I saw that Legion had added a huge item off my wishlist – class halls (which I’m still bitter were a legion-only thing). Anyway I came back and technically I haven’t left. I joined a new guild and started raiding again mid-BfA, and then constantly since all through Shadowlands and Dragonflight until this tier when I said I needed a break and I hit unsubscribe.

Now this doesn’t count as a lapse because my subscription doesn’t end until the end of the year (I got the year pass for the discount and bonuses). I unsubscribed because “why are there a million currencies?” “why are they all in my bags?” Everything is too random and too complicated. I hate the new profession system with the star qualities. I miss the days when an enchant was an enchant, and you could make it or you couldn’t. With some distance I can see the same sort of frustration that prompted me quitting in Warlords playing out again here.

Why I am contemplating remaining subscribed?
As my sub isn’t up until the end of the year I’ve started playing casually. I say ‘started’ because at some point I stopped. I’ve long been on record as saying that the content drought is my favourite time in game because I can just play what I want without feeling any kind of pressure. I’m experiencing the same kind of freedom now and it’s nice.

I didn’t enjoy Shadowlands very much and I got out of the habit of playing the game. Then when I did login, it was only to raid. I knew there were things I ‘should’ do to be more powerful for my raid group, and it was invariably stuff I hate like Mythic+ or working on the professions which are stupid complex now and I didn’t want to do those things. So as a consequence I didn’t play at all. My brain works on a strict priority basis. I have to do the #1 item, and if I don’t do that, then I can’t do anything.

Dragonflight as an expansion is so much better than Shadowlands. The dragonriding is great (restricting flying until the .2 patch last few expansions has been so ANNOYING!). It’s much lighter material and I vibe with it a lot more. If I’m not trying to be ‘raid ready’ I can avoid the systems that annoy me or poke at them on my own timescale without concern about how long it’s taking, and whether I’m prioritising the wrong thing.

I want to give a slight honourable mention here to Classic because it is bundled with the regular subscription. Now I am not Classic’s intended audience at all, and for the most part I don’t really like it. I am all about the quality of life improvements, and Classic goes back to what is (in my mind) the BAD old days. However, they are doing this experiment called “Season of Discovery” and it’s kinda actually new content for Classic. Now I have no interest in the retooled dungeon turned raid as people scare me, but I am curious about the class runes so that rogues can tank for instance. Also Cata Classic has been announced for probably August? I think next year and that I am nostalgic about. I started during Wrath obviously but Cata was my first complete expansion. I do have a bit of an issue with Classic in that it feels like a ‘waste of time’ as it’s not linked to the main game. Anything I do there doesn’t ‘count’ so to speak. But well I’m at least interested in poking around.

Why I play? Why did I ever start to raid in the first place?
This is obviously linked to why I’m thinking of staying subbed. I’ve said this before many times I think – I’m a collector, a completionist. I target achievements, mounts, pets etc. Raid achievements a) sometimes require a group, b) take a couple of expansions before they are soloable, if they are at all due to mechanics. So basically a group is needed. Also I think back in the day I might have thought about gear a little, because the better gear helped me solo stuff for going after mounts in old raids etc.

I never forgot this but I think I lost sight of it a little when I stopped basically playing outside of raids. My mindset became more about the ‘good of the guild’ when it came to raids. I really started to basically ‘phone it in’. With all the crap with the professions I didn’t level them up to make my own stuff like I used to. I have always, always resented having to buy stuff for my gear because it doesn’t last. I am a total miser when it comes to my gold as I only like to spend it on stuff I can keep e.g. mounts. This is how my alt army started as I needed enough characters to max all the professions so I could keep my main supplied with gems, enchants, flasks etc. When I stopped being able to provide my own, I really resented the AH prices and so naturally I got what was cheapest on the list of ‘recommended’ enchants rather than the absolute best. Also quite naturally my guild leader called me out on it and said I needed to do better. They were right, this is a team game and I wasn’t pulling my weight, but I resented the correction anyway.

I mostly finished up BfA but there are a few things I didn’t do. There is a ton of Shadowlands stuff I never did, and also a lot this expansion. Blizz seem to be adding more and more in each expansion (and there’s that randomness again). I used to say that Warcraft was the best game because there was always something to do. For years it was my depression game because I could play it for weeks on end, which made for a good distraction. It kept me busy rather than brooding. Honestly I don’t think I’ve overstating it if I say it’s likely a good part of the reason I’m still alive. However, that “always something to do” can also be intimidating, especially when playing less. Having not played much outside of raids for a couple of years there is a LOT there. Not raiding means I don’t need to feel ‘behind’ because I can pick and choose based on what I feel like doing without worrying about priority, but it can still feel like an endless mountain as I will never be done.

I have a PS5. It’s basically made me a console gamer. It’s my first current gen playstation. I think I have platinuumed 8 games this year? And that’s the key point – there is an end. I can take a PS5 game to completion. I can finish the campaign, I can then wrap up the remaining achievements and hit that 100% (or as good as). There is a real satisfaction to being able to mark a game as complete, and to then be able to move on. Warcraft being eternal doesn’t offer that – except I guess arguably in the approach of targeting achievements, or collecting mounts. It provides a more short-term goal which can be checked off.

I remember back in the day spending weeks running Stratholme for the Deathcharger’s Reins. I didn’t have Rarity back then to track attempts which is a good thing as I shudder to think how many hundreds of kills it took. There was something vaguely addictive about doing it. I guess in some respects it’s a bit like gambling (maybe this time it will drop!) and then when it doesn’t, going out and trying again. I haven’t mount farmed in a long time. I’m missing just one from the ‘Awake the Drakes’ achievement but it’s the bloody annoying one from Deathwing in Dragon Soul. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t the lockout trick that ICC enjoyed, and I got fed up with it never dropping. Maybe I should try again.

So will I renew my subscription?
Currently it’s set to expire December 28th and I’m going to let it. December is an expensive month with Christmas and so at the very least I’m going to wait a week, and push it into January so it’ll hit the January bill. Will I resub then? I am undecided. When I started this blog I was pretty certain I would but then in thinking about why I unsubbed I realised a lot of those reasons are still present.

I am liking being able to play more casually, and if I remain unsubbed I won’t be able to mess around in Season of Discovery either (which as it’s Classic I’m wavering over anyway because Classic is annoying with the QoL).

BUT I keep thinking that the next expansion is bringing some awesome sounding QoL, and maybe taking a few months out and getting closer to that wouldn’t be a bad thing? On the other hand how much content there is to wade through will only get worse with more time away. Blizz don’t seem to be slowing down unfortunately. Keeping up will forever be a challenge now it seems. I will definitely resub in time for the next expansion but maybe I’ll take a few months out at the start of the year?

I have so many things to do in my life having one less competing for my time can only be helpful. I do tend to get obsessive about things and hyperfocus. As I said for a while it was super helpful I could do that with Warcraft but I am trying to do better these days.

Anyway the point of all this I suppose is that why we play matters. Like so many things in life, perhaps it’s not that Warcraft has changed as a game to become incompatible with me, it’s that my mindset has shifted and I’m not approaching it the same. I do really like being able to go back to my ‘roots’ in hunting achievements. I do feel like I have rediscovered why I enjoy playing this game. I had forgotten for a long time. But is that enough? I am different now and I have other options. Perhaps having remembered why I like the game, a true break altogether would either reaffirm it, or give me necessary distance.

A lot to think about.