Saturday, March 12, 2011

Patch overload

There comes a time in a MMORPG player's life when he or she has simply had their fill of patches and game changes. World of Warcraft has been around for so long and it has gone through so many significant class changes that it has afflicted some of us with patch overload. I'm one of those and I'm not even a hardcore raider or PvP-er.

Patches are a good thing when they fix bugs. Change is good when it adds new features, or improves existing ones, or addresses deficiencies.  It seems to me that WoW has been getting more patches more quickly as time goes by. Again, that's not a bad thing. What "bugs" me, if you will forgive the pun, are the never ending balancing changes.

Yes, I've just about had it with this so-called "class balancing". Just look at hunters, for example. Multishot was fine, in my opinion, in Wrath of the Lich King. They nerfed it to the ground in Cataclysm. Now, in patch 4.1, they are preparing to buff it again. Even hunter's resource system, focus, was initially adopted in WoW Alpha, to be dropped in favor of mana, and then to be reverted years later to focus. Nice. Couldn't they have kept focus from the beginning?

It seems that lately I've been in a foul mood regarding WoW. I just feel like I can't keep up with these myriad of tiny class balancing changes which every patch brings. This is especially amplified when you are playing most of the 10 classes. Keeping track of all that information? Fuggedaboutit.

Can't Blizzard just make up their minds and say, ok we're done with major changes to class mechanics? Small tweaks here and there I can understand and have nothing against. But dammit, every time I re-learn how to play my class, there's some big overhaul which requires me to start over. My brain is beginning to overheat, and I'm not kidding you.

Since I'm already on the subject, do you know what I think messes everything up in WoW? PvP. I've disliked PvP in WoW from the beginning but with every patch I'm reminded that this is one of the biggest causes for these major skill and mechanics changes. It's not the concept of PvP itself, but rather the fact that classes have to use the same set of talents in PvP as in PvE. Hence, it is impossible to ever balance this game properly. Hear this: the classes in World of Warcraft will be eternally unbalanced as long as PvP and PvE share the same talent set.

To be fair, I think that Blizzard has also been sliding down the slippery slope of class equality for some time now. In trying to make all the classes do the same damage, heal the same amount and tank with the same efficiency, they've made it such that even a 1% advantage in, say, damage that one class might have over another, is met with endless QQ from the less fortunate class.

Look, I don't give a crap if that warrior is doing 5% more damage than my hunter, with comparable equipment. I'm having fun playing the hunter, he's having fun playing the warrior. Fun should be all that matters here because, after all, it's just a damn game. It's not like someone's paying me to be at the top of the meters.

I vaguely remember that once, long ago, classes were specialized. Some tanks were very good for single targets while others were good at AoE tanking. Some healers were good at tank healing while others excelled at group healing. Some DPS were good at hitting single targets really hard while others were experts at mowing down entire hordes of enemies but in turn were relatively inefficient with single targets. Personally I don't see anything wrong in having specialized classes. These days, we're all "balanced". In fact, looking at any past, present and future patch, not really.

Going back to PvP for a second, I'm of the opinion that there should at least be a separate talent tree for PvP or something that shouldn't interfere with PvE in the slightest. There is no way all in the nine hells that WoW's classes will ever be completely balanced as long as PvP and PvE share the same talents. 20 years from now, if WoW will still be alive, patch 15.3 will contain yet another overhaul of how class X behaves or how certain skills are used.

So yeah, woohoo, I can't wait for patch 4.1... and patch 4.2... and... Wait, no, I CAN wait.


Unknown said...

i agree 100% with everything you said.

that's why i quit WoW

Mike said...

I'll second that. Nothing has been more frustrating than having to relearn how to play a class ever couple of patches, then multiplying that by the five classes or so I regularly play. Personally, the worst part is when they make changes that suck all the fun out of playing. My Pally was my favorite in Wrath, and now with all of the changes and the mess they've made, I've essentially bencher him until they figure out what they're doing. Personally, i've found this to be a tough expansion. I've been playing WoW for six years and not finding much to hold my attention. I find myself just playing the AH and not actually playing the content.

Darth Solo said...

@nikto77 lol straight to the point! I like that.

@Mike yeah my paladin was also fun to play in Wrath and I invested a lot in his equipment but they changed him too much in Cata and I don't feel like touching him anymore.

Echo said...

Yo Darth, I came back to your blog while checking and cleaning-up my Firefox favorites :)

Your post can be summarized in few words:

"WoW players are lifetime beta-testers"

I've managed to stop playing the game because.. .well, I was wasting my hours for repetitive stuff only (AH, dailies, grinding, ...).

When I get some time to play a videogame I now focus on "short stuff". Be it a FPS, an adventure, whatever... I play stuff where I don't have any "psychological" pressure to keep doing better, upgrading or grinding in any way.

MMO's are the bane of real life, but that's my personal opinion after speding 4 years in WoW :)

Let me add one last thing: the worst thing EVER that Blizz added was a completely random, crappy and "untrackable" LFD tool. It became the paradise of greedy, rude and immature players.

That too helped (a lot) when deciding to remove woW from my gaming life.


Darth Solo said...

"WoW players are lifetime beta-testers"

You've put it more eloquently in a single sentence. That's so very true.

I only partially agree with your opinion of the LFD tool. While it has it's share of inadequacies, I don't regret it one bit. It should have been in the game from the beginning. At least, they are working to improve it.

Unknown said...

Exactly why I am playing rift now.

Darth Solo said...

@Paul but is Rift bug-free? Is it balanced? I'm just asking because I have no idea but usually new games still have their share of bugs. WoW unfortunately isn't new anymore so classes should have been balanced to a large extent a long time ago.

Unknown said...

it's not bug free, no game is. I dont do a whole lot of PVP but, the pve is great. They took alot of elements from other games and combined them and it feels unique without feeling like a rip off.

Darth Solo said...

Well, by "bug-free" I mostly mean "playable". I'm happy that Rift proved so successful. WoW really needs some competition.

Djactionman said...

I certainly understand the frustration, but I've noticed with this and many other games that the top tier of players don't complain about class re-balancing, they just adapt.
I think that it keeps the game a bit more fresh; it shouldn't be set one way and never change, and as new content comes in through expansions and such it will impact class balance.
I think people are all making valid points on here. But also, the game didn't create greedy, rude, immature players, they were always there; we just see it in another way.
Trade chat is a mess, for example. All games are having to deal with this (well except ffxiv, because nobody is on there to act up, haha). Rift so far is just as bad. Pretty much all non-WoW games you have to hear this stupid comment "go back to WoW". Like it is such a comment-buster.

Darth Solo said...

I have a suspicion that Blizzard is also happy to keep making these massive class overhauls periodically, ad-nauseum, because like you said, it keeps the game "fresh". In other words it gives the illusion that the game evolves. That's all good, except some of us have started to become weary of all these changes.

Trade chat is a mess indeed but, to be honest, I'd rather have the current mess than no trade chat at all. Some people turn trade chat off but I keep it on all the time because occasionally I can snatch a good deal if something interesting catches my eye.

djactionman said...

Yeah, that's certainly true. And I see plenty of good questions that come up from people that others will just berate, and I'm happy to help out. Sometimes there is good conversation too.

Unknown said...

Hey darth solo, i have a invite if you want a rift trial. send me an email pauldotgillettatgmaildotcom

Darth Solo said...

Hey Paul thanks!