Sunday, September 16, 2018

Reddit AMA with Ion Hazzikostas

On Friday, Reddit had an Ask Me Anything with WoW's Game Director Ion Hazzikostas (WatcherDev, formerly Gurgthock from Elitist Jerks). It's a very interesting read. Watcher talks a bit about all the perceived issues with the new content in BfA.

For some reason, Reddit (and MMO-Champion) seem to have a lot of issues with Battle for Azeroth. I am not really onboard with the majority of their complaints.

To me, the "meat-and-potatoes" of BfA, the questing, the dungeons, mythic+, the raids, are the best they've ever been. That's where I spend the bulk of my time. A few of the newer "side-dishes" could probably be improved. But even then I don't really think any of them are outright bad. I think the complaints are overblown, and more a community circle-jerking than serious issues that greatly affect players.

Reading Ion's responses, though, I do think that the WoW team is not paying enough attention to "first impressions". They seem to be designing for the steady state, how things play months into the expansion. That's probably good, as it's been a flaw in the past. Something seems amazing on first glance (say Legion legendaries) but five months down the line every one hates it.

But the WoW team are stumbling on the new mechanic's first impression. People look at the new element, or try it once, and aren't excited. This is a real problem that the WoW team needs to address.

The other major issue I saw is that Blizzard is moving to a model where class specializations have strengths and weaknesses. But they have not communicated to use exactly what strengths and weaknesses our specializations actually are supposed to have.

Having strengths and weaknesses doesn't bother me, as I play a Holy Paladin. We're pretty much the archetype for a specialization with true strengths and weaknesses and have been for most of the game's history. We're strong in single/double target healing, and bad at healing many targets at once. So I'm used to it. But I can see how the specializations (especially DPS) which were well-rounded are now disconcerted that they don't have mobility, or lower AoE damage, etc. compared to their compatriots.

I do think that Blizzard should explicitly lay out the expected strengths and weaknesses of each class specialization.

In any case, the AMA with Ion is well worth the read.


  1. DPS specializations are a really awkward fit with Mythic+ being a major path of progression, especially for people that can't find the large, scheduled blocks of time needed to raid.

    1. Eh, healing can be that way too. That's the downside of the strengths and weakness idea. The other option is homogeneity. Everyone has a mobility cooldown, everyone has a full AoE rotation, everyone has the same single target behavior.

      For better or worse, Blizzard has decided on a different path, and a path which is guaranteed to make some classes better in specific content than others.

  2. I have a number of complaints:
    1. The most recent one. Rares in Arathi Highlands have been reset for the Horde but not for the Alliance. Horde players can now farm them again for drops. Alliance cannot.

    1.2. Horde players could queue for the Warfront scenario without any restrictions (except be a level 120) for a WEEK before Blizzard introduced ilvl 120 requirement. A piece of ilvl340 gear drops after every “run” of the Warfront scenario and can titanforge. The first run gives ilvl370 gear and can titanforge.

    1.3. Look at how many Horde guilds are at the top of the Mythic Uldir raid progression table. They are there because of the Warfronts.

    2. Results achieved in Mythic+ Legion dungeons were used to give people extremely high-level gear in BfA weekly chests. The gear has since been taken away from people.

    3. Server lag. People report every day that they have problems with combat lagging and loot lagging. The community has come to the conclusion that the server prioritizes dungeons and raids over quests and the open world.

    4. Professions are garbage. Recipes that need a lot of mats give only one skill point. Products of crafting professions like blacksmithing, leatherworking, and tailoring are barely useful. They give a set of gear for level 110 and for an extremely lazy level 120. The later recipes require at least 15 mythic 5-man dungeon end boss kills, are BoP and by the time someone farms the mats, he or she would have surely got something to drop. Even later recipes require 250 bloods or several weeks of farming heroic Uldir or months of killing normal Uldir bosses.

    5. Lack of communication on the part of Blizzard Activision. They change the behavior of raid bosses overnight and don’t report it anywhere.

    6. Massive bugs. When the Warfront scenario became available for queuing, the entire LFG system broke down and took quite some time to fix. When a 2H weapon dropped from an Uldir boss, Blizzard said it was supposed to be a transmog weapon with low stats and hotfixed it to be that way. People with the drops had enchanted and scrapped their old weapons by then. A lot of complaints made Blizzard to revert the hotfix.

    7. Island expeditions are garbage. On Beta they had bosses and much more randomization. Every island was a different experience. Not on Live.

    1. Damn. Early morning. ilvl 320 requirement.

    2. Good summary of the "other side". I'd like to address your comment in more detail in a future post.

  3. While you're correct in that the major activities are in a really good spot currently (M+/Raids/Other dungeons), you're missing the mark on the core concepts of the expansion.

    The core part of BFA is the Heart of Azeroth, and as a mechanic it's objectively awful. Ample opportunity to get upgrades that aren't, the gating is terrible, and leveling it just feels *bad*. Island Expeditions, as mentioned elsewhere, are supposed to be the primary leveling method for them, but diminishing returns kick in far, far too fast for those to feel rewarding.

    Beyond that, there were multiple classes that shipped in an absolutely broken state. Shaman are being almost completely cut out of high end content, and Shadow Priests are objectively terrible right now.

    1. Well, I disagree with you about the Heart of Azeroth as I posted earlier. It's fine so long as you aren't getting gear that is vastly higher than your AP level. Most of the power is in that first trait, so as long as the first trait is unlocked, it's pretty much just like chasing specific secondary stats.

      As for island expeditions, I've made a more detailed post since them. I'm not really certain what you mean about diminishing returns, though. The weekly seems more than enough for me.