Not you retard!

Not you retard!

As far as I’m concerned Mists of Pandaria is still on course to be the best expansion to Blizzard’s long running MMO World of Warcraft. Is MoP perfect? No, no it isn’t. Are their elements of the experience Blizzard could do better? Well yeah, definitely. Blizzard tried some new things in patch 5.0 and 5.1 and some worked well, others not so well, variation is at least spice to the mix. There is still time however for Blizzard to fix all of any of these issues and not one of them is a game breaker. As with most things in life it’s a question of balance.

I still hate the grind of dailies. I’ve discussed this with friends and I’m in total agreement that the tabard system of dungeon grinding rep was lame. We just equipped a tabard and ran heroic dungeons until we were exalted and then immediately swapped out our current tabard for the next one.

In Cataclysm I didn’t do dailies for any faction. The only zone where there was any real faction grind was Deepholm. I always completed almost all the quests in that zone, on all my chars, because that was the only way to get Friendly with Therazane to get the tabard so I could raise my rep (running dungeons) to buy the precious shoulder enchant. Therazane dailies? Forget it.

Similarly many of us would ride the caravan into Uldum, escape from Tol’Vir and do a couple more quests to get to Friendly so we could buy the Ramkahen tabard from their quartermaster. In Twilight Highlands not many of us advanced down the quest line beyond getting the portal to Orgrimmar set up in Dragonmaw Port then four – five quests just down the coast (north or south) until we hit friendly and bought a tabard.

Quest hub mapHowever the daily grind with the Golden Lotus is mind numbing. Thankfully every few days another few quests open up and reputation gain accelerates somewhat. However the grind is long and tedious. The first steps into the Dread Wastes brought us into contact with the Klaxxi and we discovered another of the dreaded quartermasters. Of course his nicest gear is only available once you have brown nosed your way to exalted. Once we have broken through the tedium barrier and reached Revered with the Golden Lotus we finally have access to most of the gear we needed to advance into raiding. For many of us the moment we hit Revered we abandoned all our remaining Golden Lotus quests for that day and never darkened the steps of their pagoda again: the quartermaster is located elsewhere. Once that grind is finished two more open up: we unlock more daily grinds with the Shado-Pan and August Celestials.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse then 5.1 hit and Blizzard handed out the Dominance Offensive and every day we had more quests to secure the bridgehead in Krasarang Wilds. If you were really dedicated there was Tillers rep to grind around your farm in the Heartland of the Valley of Four Winds. Cloud Serpent dailies anyone?

I spent weeks not bothering to Valor cap since I couldn’t spend those I had because I hadn’t ground out the requisite reputation with any of the many factions I was barely friendly with.

OK going back to running dungeons with a bag full of tabards is not a good option. However I sincerely wish Blizzard would offer me an alternative to dailies. How about restoring rep accumulation to tabards worn in 5 man dungeons? Not completely like it was in Cataclysm, but a mere fraction, a small reputation reward. So on any given day you could accumulate, something like 20 – 30% of the rep you could accumulate from dailies, with a daily rep cap. So you could do all the dailies and cap your rep that day, or do a few dailies and cap out with some dungeons. If you choose to only run dungeons, it would take you many many hours to accumulate the same amount as one hour of dailies.

You mean this tabard does...nothing?

You mean this tabard does…nothing?

If you couldn’t face dailies at all one day, there would always be an alternative means of grinding rep, the yield simply wouldn’t be anything close too or as productive as dailies, but it would be an alternative. Admittedly Blizzard are thinking along similar lines by introducing “Work Orders” in 5.2. You’ll be able to grow crops, for the various factions, and gain reputation in this way. Now I applaud this broadening of the use of the Farm and the ways in which we earn reputation rewards. However I’d like to see more alternatives.

Re-introducing the tabards might also have the corollary effect of making dungeons more popular again and shortening LFD queues which are starting to get very long mid expansion. This is very much a secondary effect and I don’t even suggests it to justify the limited return of the tabard. All I really want is choices. Dailies today, something other that dailies tomorrow, another choice on the third day and back to maximum yield dailes again at the end of the week. Some people would do dailies every day and power their way to exalted as quickly as possible and I guess a handful would put on a tabard and take half the expansion. Choice is good.

Yeah I got this gear off some bloke in a pub...

Yeah I got this gear off some bloke in a pub…

The democratisation of legendary gear in this expansion has not begun well. First off it’s a gem. A gem? That you can only socket in a weapon that isn’t best in slot of all classes. How do you get it? Talk to some guy in the Inn in the Mist, up the hill from Valley of Four Winds. Get to Revered with him, or something, with every kill in Pandaria equalling some tiny amount of rep and then collect some random drops out of Tier 14 raids (you’re going their anyway), you can get them in LFR too (oh nice, easy). The chain gets more difficult: you have to do some PvP and kill a mini boss with some guildies…

It’s an orange item. It should be hard to get, not impossibly hard as it was previously for the average gamer,  but pretty hard. Epic items fall like rain in LFR so I gues it was inevitable that the once admired raid gear purple would be replaced by not quite so impressive orange. This is not the classic bemoaning of the dumbing down of the game. Blizzard have broadened access to their content an enable more than 1% of subscribers to access Naxxramas second time around. This is about having nice, aspirational items in the game. Items that do require so commitment and hard work to get. If you make them a lot easier to get they stop being desirable. Real life is all about investment and deferred rewards, hard work and achievement. In game once rare and desirable items are being made too easy to achieve and that actually benefits no one. When I get my legendary I am inevitably going to feel, not exalted, but a little disappointed and feel that the item is devalued because I could get. Especially with no real effort.

IT’S HARDER TO FISH UP OLD IRONJAW!!!

So dailies are grinding and the legendary quest chain isn’t legendary enough plus not everyone even wants the Legendary. These are things Blizzard can fix. Will 5.2 fix them? I doubt it. Will Blizzard fix them by the end of the expansion?  I really hope so. It would be sad if they didn’t resolve the major failings of what is currently shaping up as a very good expansion. Still after Cataclysm Blizzard needed to up their game.