The end of the current expansion is nearly upon us. Raids are ramping down, and at least the ones I see are now more focused on getting people titles rather than acquiring loot (with the exception of a few things, like finishing Shadowmourne). As I look back on Wrath of Lich King, it did a lot of things right, a lot of things interesting, and has some stark differences to how things were handled in the Burning Crusade.
One thing I noticed is the variation in how raid progression was handled. During Burning Crusade it was not uncommon to join a guild that was working through Karazhan, while another guild was in Serpentshrine Cavern, another in Tempest Keep, and yet another in Black Temple. The disparity in raiding progression was commonplace and no one thought anything of it as it was fairly widely accepted.
And maybe I completely missed it, but in Wrath of the Lich King you didn’t find guilds working on old content in terms of progression. I never saw guilds recruiting for Naxxramas after Ulduar. I never saw them recruiting for Ulduar after Trial of the Crusader. It seemed that in this expansion once new content was released the old content died with very few exceptions. Weekly raids being one exception, finishing Val’anyr being another. Guilds didn’t stay in old content like you found in Burning Crusade.
And one reason this may have been was due to loot distribution. The implementation of the Vaults meant gear was always readily available if you had a little luck on your side. The staggered tiers of gear made the new loot obtainable after you put in the time to purchase it. The addition of the new 5-man instances also helped a freshly geared 80 completely skip the need for loot out of the original heroics and attended only for the badges. My Shaman is a perfect example.
This type of loot distribution made it easy to take your guild from heroics straight to ToC10 if you felt the desire. You can call it the “No Player Left Behind” program. Anyone with half the effort to do so could be rocking great gear.
Is this good? Bad? That’s in the eye of the beholder. The prevalence of easy loot changed the way people ran heroics, as AoE became the dominant method of clearing the place. Even undergeared tanks (undergeared is a relative term) felt confident enough to pull huge groups of mobs due the mentality of how heroics were ran. It didn’t make people better players. People still would get hit by Icehowl even with a speed increase. “Standing in large patches of fire is bad” is a concept still lost on a lot of people. But they had gear, and for some content, it was enough to get them through it.
As Hunters we saw our own shift as well. In Naxxramas double Bestial Wrath using Readiness was fantastic. Then the duration was nerfed and Readiness was changed to no longer reset it. And Survival rose. Hunters, in general, conquered Ulduar using Explosive Shot. And it was then outpaced by Marksmanship with the widely available stat of Armor Penetration.
We were able to run the gamut of all 3 specs during this expansion, with each one being the most viable at some point. We saw the rise of “Beastcleave”, giving Hunters a shining moment of being awesome in Arenas. Yet, if you follow Arena tournaments, you were able to see Hunters still get crapped on by Rogues. :)
And we still rock in battlegrounds. Wide open spaces, rooms to run, and packs of people to hide behind. Good times to be had by all.
The raiding philosophy also changed mid-expansion as well. What we saw in Naxxramas and Malygos were bosses that had achievements for not screwing up. Obsidian Sanctum and Ulduar followed this by having triggered hard modes (with some achievements for not screwing up). Trial of the Crusader showed up with two complete separate versions of itself. Finally Icecrown and Ruby Sanctum let you change the difficulty of bosses at will but shared a lockout due to it. The question is which version did the player base like the best?
It’s interesting to see how the different achievements say something about a person. Naxxramas may be a snooze-fest to most people now, but someone who has the Immortal title still went through the raid with a group of people so capable that no one died during a boss fight at any point in time. A bad player in the best gear can still get themselves killed. But on the other hand, the joke on US-Illidan is that “Kingslayer” was the new “Champion of the Frozen Wastes.” I admit, I have the title on three different characters now.
Patch 4.0 is bearing down on us, which will herald the impending cataclysm that is going to be released upon Azeroth. Many classes are undergoing huge adjustments, especially Hunters. I spent just a little while on the PTR and the initial changes have me very excited.
The adjustment to our class, in my opinion, is an awesome direction. But more than just the changes to Hunters, the revamping of talent trees, help menus, interfaces, guild changes, and much more shows that despite what people think, Blizzard isn’t just phoning it in but actively striving to improve the game for everyone. It would have been easy to add 10 levels, a few more talents, and go “Hey look, another island with stuff!”
This shows they are progressing the the Warcraft storyline, old locations haven’t been totally forgotten, and are actively trying to improve player’s quality of life.
And as a side note, I am excited that maybe that Spirit Beast I tamed so long ago might be good for something now.
So, what are your best memories of this expansion? What did you absolutely despise? What are you most looking forward to? Thoughts, comments, etc! Post ‘em!