Coming in late to the Warlords of Draenor expansion has further validated a belief I have held since the early days of EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot: I have always been about the journey in MMORPGs. Instead of having a year+ of content ahead of me, I might have a matter of months. In that short period of time, I don’t have any desire to try and get the best gear or obtain all of the achievements, or even race to max out my Garrison. I can’t — I don’t have the time before Legion. My goal? See the content. That single goal has radically flipped this game upside down. Why? Because now I don’t care about the gear grind. What do I need to do to see the content? That’s all I care about.
Suddenly instead of worrying about min/maxing my daily quest completion rate, my gear score, or my Garrison companion gears and levels, all I need to do is work on participating in the activities I enjoy because that’s essentially enough to get me to the point where I can see all of the dungeons and complete all of the raids. I can have fun and progress at my own rate and easily enjoy the content. ::gasp:: WoW feels like a game and not a job.
When it comes to a game like WoW at the launch of an expansion or in the thick of things, that journey is almost nonexistent and at times I feel like I have to make the most out of what I’m playing in order to rub away some of what masks that adventure. Coming in late has afforded me that opportunity in a way that feels psychologically easier to swallow. Granted, this same way of playing is completely open and available to me at the start of an expansion as well…. it’s just harder for me to win that internal battle.
Imagine if this is how WoW was inherently designed. Technically, the argument could be made that WoW IS designed this way, and they’ve just placed a bunch of activities between you and “seeing the content,” but I guess to me the activities placed between me and the content take center stage and the “game” fails to be about “seeing the content” and becomes about “getting the highest iLvL possible” or in general focusing on the metagame.
TLDR: When focusing on the actual ‘game’ part of World of Warcraft, it’s quite enjoyable. Coming in late to the expansion has made that psychologically easier for me to (1) Identify, and (2) Stay focused on. I wish WoW would emphasize the ‘game’ over the ‘metagame’ from the top down in their design.