WoD Beta Impressions

I am fortunate in that I got to play the WoD build at BlizzCon last year, and then got into what appears to be the first wave for the WoD beta.

First things first – When I saw WoD back in November, I remember thinking it wasn’t nearly as far along as MoP was at the same time. (I also got to play MoP at BlizzCon when it was announced.)

It was clearly unfinished, textures missing, no world critters, very little set dressing. Only two zones, both of which felt very empty.

The beta isn’t much better. They re-wired the way the area starts. There is a strange event at the Dark Portal, then an event in the Tanaan Jungle, then it’s off to Shadowmoon Valley. But oddly, instead of going to Karabor immediately, as we did at BlizzCon, it was a crash landing on the coast. We started by building our Garrison Outpost and questing into Draenai territory. Why are the Draenai okay with us hacking down their trees and building an outpost? We’re just as bad as the Horde in Ashenvale here.

The beta is buggy, unstable, and there is a ton of missing stuff. (Enchanting mats, trainers, etc.)

Here is my bullet list of issues though – not QA issues, but player issues:

  • The animation on the follower when dragging them from the follower pane to the mission pane in the garrison needs to be LITERALLY anything else. The strangle animation is NOT the one to use here. I picked up the night elf and she was literally struggling for her LIFE. No no no.
  • Why change the order that things are added to bags? Why not allow up to decide which direction it goes in? We have been playing one way for 10 years – you can’t just change it now.
  • So objectives are just like…. quests without the quest text?
  • The way things complete is wildly inconsistent. Some mobs are multi-tap, some aren’t, some items are player specific, some aren’t… Seriously guys, we have solved this problem. PICK a solution.
  • Reminder – Escort Quests are the WOOOOOORST.

Now about Garrisons…

I haven’t played Wildstar, but I see the pictures. These Garrisons are not comparable. Blizzard is strangling player choice in the name of their desire for telling their own story. The Garrison was supposed to be optional – now it’s a part of the storyline as it progresses through Draenor. The Garrisons are a pale shadow imitation of the player housing in other games. And the way it looks/feels in the Beta does NOT comfort me that it will get any better.

If Blizzard does this – releases Garrisons as their answer to Wildstar – I am afraid Wildstar is going to win the argument. And unfortunately, that will be the beginning of the end. You can’t be the 600lb gorilla in the room, if everyone else has corgis and kittens and you keep insisting they play with your gorilla.

Players in MMOs want choice. We want to make our characters look the way we want to look, dress the way we would dress, live in places we would live. Every choice you let the player make is validating them and allowing them to be a part of the story and game. Every choice you take away because you think it should be about you not the player is a stepping away point. And so many players are stepping away. The thing that made WoW the 600lb gorilla is the people playing who convinced their friends to play, drive them away – and you lose those pounds.

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