Where have I been? Where are the posts? It’s been over four months! Where’s the podcast? The TLDR answer to all this is that I’ve simply lost my passion for WoW. At least its current state. I still have hope it could turn around sometime this year, and that Blizzard will pull their collective heads out of the sand and start listening to their loyal community once again. I long for the day when they stop this pursuit of designing the game around analytics to maximize “monthly active users” rather than trusting their designers to do some good old-fashioned game design. Take some risks! Stop throwing away anything that works and trying to reinvent the wheel. Realize that nothing is more important than class design and its related systems and reward schemes, and then put more resources towards that. It’s the vessel we all experience the game through… so if that falls short, the whole game is affected in a negative manner.
Without having that passion for the game, I don’t really want to write or talk about it much. That’s what it boils down to for me. I think half the reason I’m still playing is to not bail on the guild. The other half is I’ve just been playing this game for so damn long that it’s hard to imagine myself not playing WoW. So here I am, waiting for the new raid and doing my chores: Weekly +10s. Incursions and emissaries that reward Azerite gear (for Titan Residuum). Weekly island cap. The usual stuff. Neither hating it nor enjoying it. Just going through the motions.
I haven’t completely jumped out of the community. I still dutifully maintain Wowhead’s Beast Mastery guide, which has been pretty successful. Yes, you read that right. It was the most popular guide across the whole Wowhead site in 2018. Not just class guides. So I am pretty proud of that. Yeah, it is a popular spec so that makes sense… but I still think the guide is pretty high quality as well. 😉 Writing guides is a bit different than writing blog posts because it’s all technical. Writing technical stuff doesn’t drain me in the same way writing stuff like this does.
Ever since I started this blog about 5 years ago, the following sentence was on the “About” page: “As long as WoW and hunters are both awesome, this blog is probably going to exist in some form.” WoW is not awesome right now, but the blog still exists for the time being and I don’t have any plans of shuttering it any time soon. I want to post more, I want to get excited about stuff related to the game again.
Recently we had the Blood Beast pets added to the game in patch 8.1. It was a mystery where the Blood-soaked Tome dropped. Even the secret finding discord couldn’t figure it out. Then, by chance, someone used their hearthstone in the middle of Heroic Zul in Uldir, and once they were back in town and their raid defeated the boss, the tome appeared in their bags. WTF?
This was obviously a bug. Another bug… BFA has arguably been the buggiest expansion ever. I don’t know what’s caused so many bugs this expansion. Maybe it’s a change in their internal workflow. Maybe it’s cuts to the QA team. Maybe they’ve just been rushed. The Blood-soaked Tome was eventually hotfixed to drop off of Zul on Normal or higher with no special requirements. Blizzard then let us know the intended way to get the drop was to defeat Heroic Zul in a raid of only Hunters.
Now that would’ve been worth a post here. That’s freakin’ cool if you ask me. I would have genuinely tried to organize some all-Hunter raids myself (on US Alliance, where I play) so we could all get our hands on this new pet family. But because of this ridiculous hearthstone bug, it was forever tainted. Blizzard felt they had no choice but to make it a normal drop because the number of Hunters doing the hearthstone trick was starting to create a pretty toxic environment for Hunters wanting to PUG Heroic Uldir at all. Within hours of the discovery, the group finder was full of “NO HUNTERS” Uldir groups because of this. What a shame.
While we’re on the topic of secrets, the whole Hivemind thing was a really cool highlight of the expansion thus far. I loved how it was group based with some group puzzles. I had a lot of fun doing the whole thing. It makes me think that there’s still some developers who have some genuine passion for putting interesting things into the game.
Blizzard needs to take risks with classes
I don’t understand why Blizzard is so terrified to do risky things when it comes to classes. They’re worried about bloat, so they throw away everything from Legion and replace it with “You gain 12 main stat every 5 seconds.” Set bonuses, artifact weapons, and legendaries were all replaced with boring and uninspired Azerite traits such as that one. There are a handful of interesting traits, maybe some that could qualify as a classic 2-piece bonus, but often they offer worse throughput than the boring ones.
They’re also worried about class balance, which is probably another factor in having a bunch of boring and relatively meaningless traits. I’d rather have fun talents and fun traits with imperfect balance. Am I alone there? I don’t think so.
To use Beast Mastery as an example, it still has several unfun and useless talents. They’re just taking up space and could be replaced by something new and exciting.
Spitting Cobra is the most egregious of the lot because it’s a level 100 talent. Since the BFA beta started, I (and I’m sure many others) have been reporting multiple bugs on this talent, and they’re still not fixed! It’s been almost a year. The first one is that it’s not doing the damage that the tooltip indicates. It’s only doing about ~20% of the indicated damage, which amounts to almost nothing. The second problem is that it only has a range of about 25 yards, and this restriction is not noted anywhere. We’re a 40 yard range class… if it can’t work at 40 yards, it needs to say so (like how Stampede specifies 30 yards).
From day one, my suggestion for this talent to make it more interesting was to have the Cobra mirror the Hunter’s own Cobra Shots and Multi-Shots. The second option is to scrap it and put something better, or at least fix the current issues!
I’m not going to go into every talent because, honestly, Beast Mastery is in a pretty decent place (minus the numbers of course). There have been positives, like not being as squishy by having some defensive options, and while our talent options are limited, at least the ones we do use are pretty effective.
This doesn’t stop the class from feeling empty, though. There is still no effective replacement for set bonuses, artifacts, and legendary effects. It all boils down to reward systems and how interesting the classes are at a base level. There isn’t a balance here.
I think Blizzard needs to focus more on making the classes fun at a base level rather than relying on the token progression system of the expansion. Make the class is fun, then add new things to enhance it on top.
Marksmanship is in a weird place. Its damage is pretty good right now (part of that is due to a Trueshot bug introduced in 8.1, which gives better cooldown reductions than the tooltip indicates), but the main issue MM has is there’s no real upside. You give up BM’s freedom of movement and better utility, and you get nothing in return.
Marksmanship is close to being a good spec. Here are a couple of ways I think it could be improved:
- Allow Trick Shots to be activated with 2+ targets rather than 3+ targets. It’s infuriating when you can’t activate it because a target might be slightly out of range, and it also gives an option for 2 target damage. Also, remove the 6 target limit (or at least increase it a little bit). I can’t think of any other specs that get punished in mass AoE situations like this. Especially if you’re not going to give any 2-target options, don’t restrict the mass AoE so much.
- Remove Lone Wolf or have no pets at all. One or the other. It just complicates things too much when it’s not a talent. Pets provide abilities like purge/tranq, and important cooldowns and passives, which is hard to give up. If Lone Wolf is removed, compensate with a buff to Trick Shots damage. If no pets are allowed at all, give MM Hunters Tranquilizing Shot and some alternate utility to make up for the loss of pets. There is no fantasy or choice when all you’re doing is using a pet based on the number of targets. It also feels bad to be choosing between utility and damage.
Waiting for Azerite to be good
To be honest, I’m already sick of writing this post. 🙁 This is why if you looked at my post list in my WordPress site, you’d see a bunch of partially written drafts over the past few months that I simply couldn’t finish.
Anyway, the last point I wanted to touch on was about the future of Azerite.
Ion told us that in patch 8.2 the system will be changing completely. There will still be traits on items, but they’ll be unlocked from the start. Instead, you will progress the neck itself. If I had to guess, I think it will resemble Legion artifact progression. You’ll have a tree of some kind on your neck and as your earn Azerite, you’ll make choices there.
It sounds a lot better than what we have now (yay, let’s unlock Overwhelming Power for the 7th time!) but what bugs me so much about this is that it makes current progression feel pointless. And once again, it’s Blizzard fixing things at the end of the expansion. I think sometimes those fixes are intentionally held back in order to keep people interested. Maybe not this one in particular, but things like being able to buy specific legendaries in Legion? Absolutely.
The whole “stick with us, we know it’s a broken system but we promise it will be fixed in 4-8 months” thing just gets on my nerves. I worry it will taint the whole season 2 for me. I can’t believe they only added 1 new trait per spec. There should have been a lot more work done there to tide us over, even if it is temporary. The only benefit to another ring is you have a slightly lesser chance of getting screwed by the RNG gods since you have one more chance of getting at least 1 good trait.
What I want most from the next expansion is for Blizzard to listen to early beta feedback so we don’t have the third expansion in a row where the major problems aren’t fixed until the 9.2-9.3 patch timeline.
So there it is. Sorry if this depressed you or made you angry (I know some people genuinely love BFA). But if I was going to write anything, it was going to be a rant post. Despite all my complaining, I’m still looking forward to the new raid. The upcoming content announced at Blizzcon genuinely sounded cool as well.
There’s a chance! Please don’t kill this game for me, Blizzard.
Thanks for all the comments of support. And whoever linked it on reddit sent it through the roof! I didn’t expect anyone but a few of your Hunters to be reading it. To be honest, if I had slept on the draft of this post I probably wouldn’t have posted it. It didn’t get my thoughts across as clearly as I’d have liked. It’s honestly really hard to put my finger on all the issues because there are so many. Complaining about one single issue or talent seems pointless, since it’s just one thing on a very large list. Not to mention such problems wouldn’t even be that big of a deal if there wasn’t all of the other problems making them worse, collectively.
Ever heard of the saying that something was “greater than the sum of its parts?” That’s what WoW used to be. It was amazing despite its individual problems. Today, I feel like it’s the opposite. There are genuinely good things in this game, but they are basically cancelled out by all the bad things. It’s actually become lesser than the sum of its parts, which is not what I expect from Blizzard.