WoW: A Bit of a Rave, a Bit of a Rant

So, some good progress in WoW over the last couple of days.  Got to level 86 and ran all of the normal-mode dungeons from the Cataclysm expansion along the way, then got started on Mists of Pandaria content.  Some rants along the way, but first it’s achievement screenshot time!

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I also actually started running the Cataclysm questline while waiting on particular instances – more on that in a second – and completed the first zone of the storyline:

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…and all in all, it was good to push me over another level milestone:

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This is all great, but it exposed a bit of an issue with Blizzard’s LFD and LFR tools, which are the biggest draws to me as a player.  If you, like me, just like running dungeons with four other people, WoW has that DOWN.  Log in, press the “I would like a dungeon” button, wait a bit and you will get a dungeon to run.  It occurs to me that I’m playing WoW much closer to something like Destiny or Borderlands, but I’m having fun with it so I don’t think I’m playing it “wrong” by any means.

That said, there are some really weird decisions in the LFD and LFR tools.

For example, when you hit level 80, the end of the “Wrath of the Lich King” expansion, you unlock three new dungeons, all connected, in which your group storms the Lich King’s castle and confronts said Lich King at the end.  I’m not particularly invested in WoW lore, but that sounded GREAT, so I put myself into a LFD queue for those instances and went off and actually ran quests while I waited on a group.

…and waited, and waited, and waited.  I couldn’t quite figure out what was taking so long, because these sounded neat and I couldn’t imagine people not wanting to queue for them, and then I hit level 81 through questing and the option to queue for them vanished from the dungeon finder tool.

So, there are these three dungeons that are supposed to be the payoff for the Lich King expansion, but you have access to them only for the tiny window of time where you’ve hit level 80 but haven’t progressed, which is a vexing design choice to say the least.  Fortunately I have a very patient wife who has a stable of high-level WoW characters, and she dragged me through them:

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And they were, for the record, really neat.  It was one of the first times I was actually invested in what was going on with the story, as opposed to just “hey, there are some guys over there with things I want and I will kill them for it” which has been my personal narrative thus far.

Then she asked if there was anything else I wanted to do, and the topic of the raid finder (“LFR” tool came up, because that had just unlocked for me at level 85 and I wanted to get my raid on but wasn’t meeting the equipment (iLvl) requirements to use it.  I was at iLvL 325, it wanted iLvL 372, I needed to poke my nose into some of the heroic instances and get gear from those before being able to raid.

So, we headed over to some of those dungeons, and ran a three-part heroic dungeon involving time travel and alternate versions of WoW’s past (another very fun storyline through these three dungeons, as an aside), and I got some loot that was pushing me really close to that magic number of 372, and then I leveled to 86 and the raids I needed to get 372 for disappeared from raid finder because suddenly I was too high leveled.

So, that’s my basic rant about WoW today – there is a ton of very neat content, but there are certain breakpoints where you have a tiny window of opportunity to access the content, and your option if you miss those windows of opportunity is to get up to level cap and then come back and stomp it.

It really shows in Cataclysm because it was only a 5 level expansion, and I suspect it will be the same in Mists of Pandaria which is another 5 level expansion.

Oh, right, Mists of Pandaria.

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…two dungeons down, more to come.  So as much as I may rant about missing some of the side content along the way, I AM enjoying what I get to see.

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