Feeling the WoW Grind
About a week ago, it got to the point that I was getting pretty upset and frustrated playing World of Warcraft (WoW). The frustration came about during the whole BattleGrounds (BG) grind for honor. The night basically consisted of playing Alterac Valley over and over and over and over and over… The worst games are those in which there is no teamwork and especially if there is no defense as I ALWAYS play D.
Anyhoo.. I logged off that night being upset and a bit angry. The thought of this sounds strange to me because gaming is supposed to be fun. I have played other team-based cooperative games (mostly first person shooter games like Call of Duty, Return Castle Wolfenstein, etc) but never had this sort of feeling in those. Even if we lost the match in the FPS style coop games, I still had a good time.
A couple of months back, I converted a coworker who plays Guild Wars to World of Warcraft. After about a month of playing, he basically told me that WoW rewards people for grinding whereas Guild Wars is more based upon skill. I really didn’t think too much about this comment at the time as I was just a lowly level 44 at the time and still had 30 odd levels before hitting the current level cap, 70. But now that I have hit the level cap, ‘the grind’ is becoming much more apparent to me.
For example, not only was losing a BG making me feel bad, but I also got upset because I *knew* I was a much better PvP player than my opponent and the only way they won was because of gear. The WoW game is heavily dependent upon gear and the only way to get better gear is to put more time into the game. WoW PvP is not like a first person shooter where everyone starts out the same and has an equal chance of getting the uber-gun in the level or taking out another person. Even in Guild Wars, the weapons/armor is mostly cosmetic and the gameplay really comes down to class combination and your choice of 8 spells that you can bring into battle. In both of these examples, I do not necessarily have to put in the time to fair well in a PvP situation. Sure, putting in the time helps to hone the skills, but it is not a requirement.
With all of this, I basically decided to take a break from World of Warcraft. This is the second time that I have taken a break by not playing for roughly a week. Actually, this time the whole grind and time sink issues got to me so bad that I almost deleted my character and called it quits. I probably would have but my wife wanted me to continue playing as we can share the World of Warcraft together.
But alas, during the 1 week break, I stopped playing WoW and caught up on some other neglected chores. Luckily WoW hasn’t impacted my taiji training too much as I do make an effort to stop playing by a certain time so I can get my taiji training in for the day. However, like the last time I took a break I tried to find an MMO replacement. I dabbled in some Guild Wars: Nightfall and Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO).
Guild Wars Nightfall is pretty cool except I feel like I am playing alone since anytime you leave a city you enter an instance of the world for questing. Even though I mostly play solo in WoW, it *is* nice to be amongst the commotion and the hustle and bustle of the world. My wife was very fond of the character creation process in Guild Wars and she ended up creating a couple of character on my account just to check it out. However, one weird thing in Guild Wars is that you cannot jump.. very minor thing but weird nonetheless.
I signed up for the Lord of the Rings Online trial and enjoyed it. The graphics look very nice on my older 2.4Ghz machine but the game felt so similar to WoW that I sort of missed WoW playing it. The art style is more realistic but I favor the WoW look. However, the first couple of quests are intense and quite immersive with the whole story line. Sure, it was basically a ‘go kill 10 rats’ kind of thing but the way they imbedded it within the story and the conflict made it feel different. Also, I would have liked to see more magic type effects in the game, like fireballs and stuff, but it’s pretty subdued. Not LOTRO’s fault as I think Tolkien kept it on the downlow. In the end, I do not want to have another timesink trying to build reputation or kill 100 rats so I can be the king of rats or whatever.
So, after all of this, I basically ended up going back to WoW. However, now I play very sparingly and only when I am having fun. Example, last night I played the daily battleground and 1 match of Alterac Valley then logged. Short and sweet as I know there is nothing but grind ahead of me if I want to do more. I do notice my interest in the game has really taken a dive and at this point I am not sure if I would continue to subscribe when approached with the next billing cycle.