With the much awaited release of the 4.2 patch today, Firelands has opened up a whole host of new content to the raiding level 85s amongst us, but is there anything in there for the casual gamer? On the face of it, not much, the Firelands is seemingly a raid area aimed at the harder core WOW players with no additions on the 5-man heroic front; whilst the prospect of once again being able to smash Ragnaros in the face is an alluring one, I simply don’t have the time (even less than I used to have) to get my act together and start raiding again. Pretty short post this then… the F in Firelands does seem to be a big F-all for the casual! Not so at all!
If you skip through the content of the Firelands information pages on the Blizzard website you’ll see a section titled Content for the Casual 85, this links to one of the Dev Blogs where ‘Fargo’ talks about what's in store for the casual at 85. Clearly there’s a whole host of trade skills, and a good few heroics, but they get a bit stale after a while, there’s only so much trade-skilling one can take in a given session, and with the rise of the, errr, Rise of Zanzilar instances the ‘old’ heroics have very little draw as there’s very little reward in it.
Quest, for me, have never had that much draw, even (especially?) the dailies, they’ve been a functional means to an end over the years, you chop your way through them, either to level up or to grind rep. Occasionally doing a quest chain to get an item, more so on the latter since the iLvl requirement. Occasionally there were some particularly enjoyable chains, like the various 5 man crucible type fights, that I’d go back to and do even if I had no reason to, but on the main I don’t quest purely for enjoyment, i don’t know why, it just seems a bit pointless, and repetitive if you breed alts; I suppose there just doesn’t seem to be much ‘questyness’ to it – the fact that every other player on the server is, has, or could do the exact same chain, in the exact same order doesn’t set my world on fire – how many of you went to the cinema and watched some short arsed hobbit wait patiently for three other short arsed hobbits in roughly the same clothes stab a few orcs before handing a ring in to get their reward? It just doesn’t happen like that outside of (I almost said fantasy) MMOs.
Now once again I’ve wandered off into ramblings, and you might ask what the hell I’m on about, well here it is. Well here it is, the developers seem to have realised the same thing, and gone some way to try and introduce a little bit of randomness in there so tat there's more of a feel that you’re embarking on your own adventure, which comprise of your own quests, with their own challengers. And not that you’re just re-treading the footsteps of a thousand people before you the same day:
There's also a story here, a chronicle of a vicious, knock-down, drag-out fight that begins in Hyjal and progresses -- over the course of weeks -- across the mountaintop and then into the Firelands themselves. Along the way, major characters are going to get rocked, you'll meet (and destroy) a few new villains, and you'll earn yourself a small heap of nice rewards. The druids are establishing a beachhead in a hostile world, starting with little more than a pile of rocks and ultimately erecting an enormous otherworldly base.The whole post is linked here, and I’ve got to say I like the sound of it, I suppose at the end of the day, it’s just dailies, but the fact that people will be doing stuff along different ‘routes’ will mean that there’s less contention for particular quest items or mobs, there’s some better differentiation (at least in the early days) between characters and the gear they can achieve, and you’ll have less of a feeling that you’re just slogging through the same linier story in the same way as everyone else on the server. I’m keen to see how the party dynamic is maintained in this, hopefully it wont be a simple case of you go do your quests and I’ll help, then we’ll do mine.
The progression is personal: you won’t see it happen until you make it happen.
I’d like to see these principles extended to the daily quests, Jewelcrafting in particular is a particular bugbear of mine, you have a selection of a handful of quests which may crop up as he daily, everyone else on the server gets the same daily, which simply means either the price of nightstone rockets for a day at a time, or the elementals in Mount Hyjal get beaten up and their dinner money stolen again. I’m currently on the train home and might get an hour or so this evening to try them out, that is as long as the patch downloader doesn’t take its usual half day to sort its shit out.