The big World of Warcraft news this week is patch 5.2, the Throne of Thunder, is due out by the end of February. It will likely come out on the 26th. It will have been almost exactly three months between Throne of Thunder and Landfall (patch 5.1).
We saw Landfall come out two months after Mists of Pandaria. In the span of five months, we’re going to be looking at two content patches this expansion. For comparison, Rage of the Firelands (patch 4.2) and Hour of Twilight (patch 4.3) were released six months apart.
I have to ask the question: Is Blizzard releasing content too quickly?
For Wrath of the Lich King, a new patch was typically released every four months, with the exception of Secrets of Ulduar (patch 3.1) being released after five months. Even the time between the release of Ruby Sanctum and Cataclysm was five months. If you want to get technical, Cataclysm came out nine months after the Fall of the Lich King in patch 3.3.2, and nearly twelve months since the Assault on Icecrown Citadel began in patch 3.3.
This is going to sound crazy, but I liked waiting four months between content patches in Wrath of the Lich King. I don’t like the short wait between patch releases in Mists of Pandaria. I don’t like Blizzard’s commitment to delivering more content more quickly. However, I didn’t like the ten-month wait between Hour of Twilight and Mists of Pandaria.
The problem I have is the amount of content in Mists of Pandaria. There is too much of it! There is the leveling content to get players to level 90. Reaching 90 unlocks three raids, half a dozen new dungeons, eight scenarios, innumerable dailies, and reputation grinds. The reputation grinds are easily the worst.
If you’re not familiar with how the reputation grinds work in Mists of Pandaria, here’s the rundown: when players reach 90, they can start doing daily quests for The Anglers, the Order of the Cloud Serpents, The Tillers, and the Golden Lotus. If players have quested through the Dread Wastes and met the Klaxxi, they can also do those quests. Once players reach Revered with the Golden Lotus, a process which takes at least 17 days reputation buffs, they can start doing dailies for the August Celestials and the Shado-Pan. Additionally, some of the best pre-raid gear comes from reaching Honored and Revered with the Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, August Celestials, and Shado-Pan, making these grinds indistinguishable from mandatory for any player serious about raiding.
The average player will visit Halfhill at level 86, where they can meet Farmer Yoon and start farming. However, players can’t earn reputation for harvesting the crops until level 90. They can’t even do the daily for planting a specific crop of Yoon’s choosing, and that doesn’t require a flying mount or fighting level 90 creatures. In fact, it only requires players walk 100 yards, buy a seed for 13 silver, walk 100 yards back to the ranch, and plant the seed. It’s not difficult, and there is no reason for it to be arbitrarily gated by level.
This pisses me off because Blizzard’s philosophy for Mists of Pandaria is to slow down. What better way to let players level at their leisure than awarding them 118,000 experience each day for a trivial amount of effort? Their philosophy is also at a crossroads with their dedication to releasing content quickly; how are players supposed to take their time working through the content if more content is always on the way?
What I liked about the longer waiting period in Wrath of the Lich King was each patch didn’t add as much content. For example, the Secrets of Ulduar patch added the Ulduar raid zone. It didn’t add the raid zone alongside new heroic dungeons, a daily quest hub, events, reputations, toys, and a slew of other additions. The reduced amount of content allowed me to hit level 80 on my main about a week into Wrath’s release, after which I started on the mandatory reputation grinds. It took me longer to reach Exalted with those factions than it could have, because I chose to earn my reputation from doing dailies. I still ran heroics while championing a faction, but I did those dungeons because I needed loot from them. Once the loot well ran out, I stopped running dungeons obsessively.
When I got bored, I had another option: I leveled alts. I leveled my Rogue and my Paladin to 80. I created a Death Knight and leveled it to 60. If I was ever bored of healing, I could switch to my Rogue and do some stabbing. If I tired of that, I could switch to my Paladin and get my skull beat in so my group didn’t have to. I had options, which was important. Heck, when I ran out of content in Cataclysm, I leveled my Rogue and my Death Knight to level 90.
Contrast that to Mists of Pandaria: I didn’t run out of content, I exhausted my desire to play. When I looked at my Rogue, all I could see was the amount of content I hadn’t done on my Priest. All I could feel was the guilt from letting my guild down by not having my Priest as well-equipped as it should have been. I couldn’t bring myself to devote any time to work on an alt. Not my Rogue, not my Death Knight, not my Paladin, not even a brand new character. There’s simply too much content to do on a single character. The idea of doing all this content again on any other character I raise to level 90 just turns me away from touching any other character.
Honestly, reaching Revered with the Golden Lotus burned me out. I used to log in every day to plant and harvest crops, and I sometimes did dailies. Once I unlocked dailies for the Shado-Pan and August Celestials, I had very little desire to keep playing. I would still log in each week to go raiding in Mogu’Shan Vaults, but I couldn’t be bothered to queue up in Looking For Raid once each week for what is essentially free pre-raid loot (another feature of Mists of Pandaria that is indistinguishable from mandatory). I didn’t even feel like tending to my farm, an activity which requires such a trivial amount of effort.
I’m just now getting back into playing outside of raids. I’ve recently started the quest hub introduced in Landfall. I’m queuing up in LFR to get my free loot. I still have some quests to do in Townlong Steppes, and I haven’t even touched the quests in the Dread Wastes—I haven’t even met the Klaxxi! And now the Throne of Thunder is coming out in two weeks? Great, now I have to rush. Again.
If Blizzard slowed down just a little, even as little as a content patch every 3 months, then I would have a month and a half to finish Dominance Offensive (Landfall) content before 5.2, instead of two weeks. It’s not a lot of time, but it might be enough. Again, I would prefer waiting four months for more content, but I recognize I’m in the minority there.
Maybe I’ll just sequester my alts to the backlog and bring them out next expansion.