Monday, April 08, 2019

Random Thoughts on Battle For Azeroth

Just some thoughts about Battle For Azeroth which have been bouncing around in my head over the last little while.


A lot of people seem to think BFA is a "bad" expansion. I confess that I don't really see this. To me, BFA seems more or less like Legion. I liked Legion, and I like BFA.


The base zone stories in BFA are quite good. I do think that effectively requiring you to level both a Horde and an Alliance character will be deemed a mistake in hindsight. But as I have max level characters on both sides, it's not much of a barrier.

As for the faction war story, I didn't have very high expectations, thanks to my predictions about the nature of war. I think BFA has shown that the basic logic of those posts were sound and correct. However, Blizzard has managed to exceed my expectations in the handling of the war. So where many other people seem to be disappointed, I'm actually impressed that they did as good a job as they did.

Azerite Armor

Azerite armor was a decent attempt at fixing the issues with both artifact weapons and legendaries in Legion. However, Azerite armor really demonstrated that character power must be monotonically increasing, as mathematicians would put it. Players will not accept a temporary reduction of power now in exchange for future power later.

And as always, it falls victim to people theorycrafting the best options, and everyone ignoring all the others.

Island Expeditions, Warfronts

In my opinion, the last two expansions gave us several solid "evergreen" systems. For example, Warlords gave us the modern LFR/Normal/Heroic/Mythic raiding structure, which is quite good. Legion replaced dailies with World Quests and Emissaries.  Legion also gave use Mythic Keystones, which are excellent small-group content for players in the higher tiers.

I believe that Blizzard is looking for a new system or mechanic for players below that tier, for whom Mythic Keystones are not a good fit. Players who are casual, and primarily use Group Finder to make groups instead of guilds or Party Finder. Basically the type of player who currently tops out in Heroic Dungeons or LFR.

Blizzard basically took two cracks at the problem with Island Expeditions and Warfronts. I'm not sure either was entirely successful. Though here, it's hard to tell. The vocal part of the WoW player base, the people who post on the forums, are not the target audience, they're in the tier above. Overall, Warfronts have probably been better received than Island Expeditions.

I think Blizzard has been looking for something for this group of players for a long while. Their last attempt was Scenarios in Mists of Pandaria, and given that Scenarios never appeared again, we can gather that they weren't successful.


  1. I gave up raiding a couple tiers back. I like to see every dungeon once, but I don't care about the difficulty, and I usually do LFR once. From my perspective, I've really enjoyed warfronts. I don't farm them for gear because I don't really care about that, but I enjoyed both of them immensely just to see the content once and then to farm some achievements.

    1. Yeah, it sounds like you're the target audience which Blizzard is aiming for. It's good to see that at least Warfronts were successful for you.

  2. I don't think this part is really correct:

    "However, Azerite armor really demonstrated that character power must be monotonically increasing, as mathematicians would put it. Players will not accept a temporary reduction of power now in exchange for future power later."

    That's not the problem with Azerite; an item level upgrade is usually an upgrade, even if you lose some traits. Otherwise you could just not equip it. I think the real issue is that people are very loss averse, and maybe this is especially true of MMO gamers. So if you give something and take something else away, they mostly feel the loss. Getting an azerite upgrade might increase your power, but you lose a trait, and that feels bad for most people.

    It seems like that's the biggest complaint about the expansion: people really miss the artifact abilities from Legion. I think the classes play fine as they are now, but people tend to fixate on what's gone.

    1. Hmm, you're suggesting that, even if the new piece is a overall upgrade, if the player loses a trait she liked, she would be unhappy? Sort of like losing your tier set bonus and getting a new different tier set bonus?

      That's an interesting way to look at the issue.