There was a number of news in the recent months I haven’t commented about, yet now I feel they’ve reached some critical mass worth a cumulative blog post.
Microsoft Buys Blizzard. Well, the whole thing is on paper and will remain so for another year and a half, but we can talk about perspectives. Community is generally positive about the new leadership and the deal as a whole, and replacing the dark looming cloud of Bobby Kotick by Phil of Microsoft Gaming is a greater undisputed good. Russian gaming community even has a local meme “Phil fucks!” (roughly meaning “Phil kicks ass”), so I guess it’s good news.
At the same time, it’s way too long before the deal, and we’ll probably see a number of releases before that, so that’s a very long haul from January 2022 before any changes and practices under new leadership even begin to take place. As for Game Pass, I expect to see buy-to-play titles making it, yet WoW will most probably remain in its current sub niche, offering retail and 3 legacy expansions (WotLK is bound to come) at the price of one, as it is now.
10.0. Leaks. The idea of a dragon-themed expansion has been a talk over many, many years, and players predicted dragons and Dragon Isles – whatever the fuck that is – for 3 expansions already, because it’s what people want. It seems viable for 10.0. though, because, like after WoD’s “disaster” (mark quotes, personally I loved the expansion’s story, ambience and emotional swings a lot) they needed an expansion bomb which was Legion. In 2022, after a now unanimous failure of Shadowlands, they need a bomb equally strong to return players and rebuild. So dragon theme fits. Dragon gift bundle proves it to an extent – this is where they’s moving.
Personally I liked the “leak” where Azeroth is a dragon titan, she hatches (without destruction of planet, ofc, after all, Azeroth is nursing a titan soul), and we care about the newborn baby throughout the expansion, teaching her to appreciate life and moral values along with the dragon tribes as long-term keepers of life and balance. The theme of rebuilding the mutilated planet also fits: we could plant and grow a new tree for the elves, we could fix the ravaged lands and build bonds among nations, and what not.
Azeroth may be born either in the beginning of expansion, and we take care of her throughout patches, OR the whole expansion could be a preparation for her birth: exactly the healing of the planet (don’t forget Sargeras’ sword!) along with dragon tribes could be a catalyst to the titan birth and a required condition for this epic event.
This whole concept simply reeks of some “Titan knowledge” progress scale, but I can only hope Blizzard now knows better than to implement another round of AP (now “azeroth power”) grind in any form. Well, we’ll wait and see.
9.2. Patch. My opinion did not change. From bits and bobs that I catch from the news – although I’m deliberately ignoring everything 9.2. for the sake of keeping my experience intact – I’m very skeptical about the new lore. With Sylvanas arc solved with an elegance of elephant on cocaine in a china shop, lack of Jailer’s motives and plans, introduction of a new, more powerful cosmic force which is aeons beyond from being related or even comprehended by heroes of Azeroth, and a 100% incoming rule of cool yet idiotic twist in the end of the raid which will bind Shadowlands to 10.0.
Lore card already failed before played, the only hope I hold for 9.2. is gameplay. If this robot/cypher thing is done pretty well, considering all prior mistakes, including the Korthia archive currency and grind in otherwise perfect zone, it may hold a certain gameplay value, and new race may be exciting to deal with if they manage to pull WALL-E here. I’m not sure yet how long will it take me to become sated with the patch, and that I will see upon its release.
What I’m confident about is that a 6-month sub is a thing of the past to me. I will buy a 3-month sub at patch and expansion release, and see if I’m engaged enough to continue and pursue the goals on many alts as I did before. This winter pause in WoW made me re-evaluate my previous alt practices, and I may revert to playing very few alts – maybe even just main for a start and be happy with it until 10.0. The crappy gear sets of the new raid help a lot with this decision – I’m not even sure I’ll be chasing them on one alt, save all 12 classes. But of course, we’ll wait and see.
Do I Miss Playing WoW? Well, the answer is both “yes” and “no”. I miss the world, I miss the class gameplay and my toons, I miss doing different things and different stuff in gameplay, I miss pursuing my goals. At the same time, I have zero urge to grind anima for the remaining sets, and apart from that, there’s nothing to do in game. The last and the only time I logged in was for 10 minutes on Christmas to get my toys, and that’s it for two months – even if I have my sub running until February 20, I did not and will not login there, and I don’t want to do with anything that 9.1.5. could offer.
The conclusion is simple: I’ll jump into 9.2. and pay the next sub at the very day of 9.2. patch release, and I will be only too happy to be back to Azeroth and beyond. New stories and places, however underwhelmed they might be, are still new stories and places, a step forward and a potential for wonder and exploration.
What I’m definitely sure about is that I’m off the WoW hook that’s been holding me for over than a decade, and I’m out of self-inflicted stretch of alts and grind. Dobby is finally free! That does not mean I quit the game – like I always said, I’m eager to follow it till the end, whatever that may be, it’s just it becomes one of the games to visit upon updates, see the new stuff and enjoy what I can, for the period that I feel like, not the game and the hobby. And this is a good thing, cause it opens room in my schedule for so many other worlds, titles and developers.
The last – and probably the least thing to discuss here – is the new announced titles.
First, it’s a survival game from Blizzard, presented with concept art. Mike Ybarra rushed to calm the community that it does not hurt the development of Diablo, WoW and Overwatch, so we can breathe out for that one thought. I haven’t really played any survival games, come think of it, so it would be at least interesting to try – especially if the new universe is engaging and full of wonders.
Second, Frost Giant – the company founded by Blizzard refugee developers – announced that their first game will be an RTS, aimed for cybersport and an attempt to rekindle the interest to the genre. We’ll wait and see. Personally, I played through my share of RTS in 90s-2000s: Dune, Red Alert 3, Warhammer 40k, obviously Starcraft and Warcraft. My interest will totally depend on the universe they create and whether there is a solid campaign, because I always hated RTS as a multiplayer. I absolutely hate the multiplayer practices of playing aggressively, snatching the resource nodes as if your butt is on fire, and most of all – trying to destroy an enemy in the first 5 minutes with a couple of most basic units you built earlier than your foe. Ok, you won, what’s the fun in that? My ideal experience is when you can build a full tech-tree, explore all the options, build an army at my own pace and then swipe-clean the map as a steamroller with an overwhelming force. So, if they present a fun campaign and immersing new world, I’m in for a walkthrough.
The most interesting thing is that for both of these games, is that they come without Metzen & Co’s legacy. This will be a litmus test, on whether they have visionaries and dreamers good enough to create their own world and drag us into it. And that’s what I’ll be tracking with utmost interest.
As for now… Final Fantasy XIV is fun and amazing game to play, which effectively took my time previously occupied by WoW – but I’ll definitely see you in 9.2. Whenever that might happen.