I’ve been thinking a lot about this post and how to write it without being falsely harsh or artificially optimistic, so I’ll just go ahead and do it. This is based on my opinion only, and I’ll go against my gut and put the less popular opinions in it too and risk the enrage from an angry WoW mob.
What’s ruining Shadowlands for me…
First of all, I’m going to address some elephants in the room, but it is what’s ruining the Shadowlands for me a bit. I don’t think I would’ve been aware of this if I hadn’t decided to set some time aside and do legacy content, but the moment I did, I realized what the gaping hole was in the current expansion that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.
It’s these small things that you can just dive into and keep yourself occupied for days and weeks with, and you get something amazing in return that reminds you both of the good times you’ve had, and how talented the WoW dev and art team really are. Think of the Netherwing reputation, or the Who Killed Chromie mystery, or the secret Legion mounts like the Riddler’s Mind-Worm or Lucid Nightmare. Think of all the world bosses in Pandaria that you had a weekly chance to kill for a mount loot, the Winterspring mount you had to go and feed and play with in order to get it over to your side, and the Pandaren reputation with Wyrm-related dailies you could do to get all those beautiful serpent mounts, the Mage tower, and unlocking the secret appearances for my Druid forms back in Legion. I loved every one of those things, and without them in the open world, it feels hollow and repetitive when you consider the amount of World Quests you need to do just to grind a currency to buy something from your covenant, and at this point, we don’t even know if we’ll be able to wear the other covenant’s appearances when Shadowlands is over.
I think the team needs to focus less on macromanagement and creating the systems that wrap the whole expansion, and instead, create these tiny, little features that are strong enough to stand alone, yet feel great to do, and we’re not forced upon doing them due to character progression. From that point of view, I see it, I understand it, and I wish Shadowlands would feel like a whole package with the big, character-related things in the middle, and some side stuff to do regardless of it, that don’t require months and months of prep, grinding and/or waiting for them to get nerfed.
Enough with the hate already.
On the other hand, I have to respectfully disagree with the overflowing amount of haters that are there just to hate and not really contribute to making the game better.
I think we all need to work on creating a cleaner community with much more constructive criticism for the devs – not necessarily positive, but respectful, and constructive. Every time you want to say something horrible, think about all the people who stand behind what you’re criticizing. They’re humans, just like us, and making them feel like crap on social media isn’t going to make them more motivated, more creative, more compliant, more passionate, or anything you may think they need to be. Even when they’re wrong, they’re just trying to do their job.
It’s hard to imagine that WoW is real work for anyone while you’re playing the game, but everything that’s been created is the product of someone’s skill, time, energy and dedication. If it’s bad, it’s bad, but no one’s doing it just to spite you and make you hate the game. The dev team really is trying to create a good game, because remember – their lives do depend on it, and even though sometimes it feels like they’re living in a bubble and act like they know what’s best for the game when it clearly isn’t, they’re not doing it out of pure evil in their hearts.
Receiving feedback is a much more pleasant thing when it’s in the form of constructive opinion, realistic ideas, suggestions, and wrapped in a coat of understanding. I speak about this as a content creator too, who tends to read these kinds of replies, and those that don’t quite do what they were meant to do. In other words, don’t bite the hand that feeds you (and please, do try to not take this as an excuse to talk about the cash grabs and you feeding them, as that’s not what I’m talking about), and be a valuable member of the community who knows that if you’re firm, but polite, realistic, and understanding, you will get someone on the other side who will hear you, advocate for you, and do a better job for you.
The overlooked gems of Shadowlands
Now, when it comes to the good stuff, there are a lot of things that the dev thing is doing right this time, and unfortunately, these things get overshadowed by the noise of sub fees, Conduit energy, multiboxing and what not.
This may not be directly tied to the game, but the WoW team has mastered the skill of entertaining on social media, with the transmog competitions, memes, pictures, retweets of great game-related content and art, and that’s really valuable, as it gives us the feeling that they’re actually there and communicating with us. No one’s going to see Blizzard as less professional if they reply to tweets more often, and I hope we see more of this behavior.
Another thing is the absurd weight the art team carries on their backs in Shadowlands, as the game they’ve created is easily the most esthetically pleasing out of everything I’ve so far seen in WoW, and that’s not an over exaggeration. If you just get yourself out in the open world, turn the music on and look around, you’ll see just how much of the story the game is telling you.
Speaking of story, I don’t hear a lot of praise for the side quests, the specific covenant campaigns, the fun stuff that the abominations in Maldraxxus say to you when you go out and look for their new parts, the mushroom quests that send you over to the drunken fairies’ den to dance – all of this seems to be of less importance, and I get that, for most people it is, and for me, as someone who’s currently raiding Mythic, it should be less valuable, but it isn’t!
I love the game, love the treasures, love battle pets, love the mounts and transmogs, love collecting, love the music, the sound effects, love the lore, love the legacy content, and I’m ready to praise it when I feel it’s needed, because I understand that the people behind the screens that make the game we’re supposed to enjoy, have feelings as well.
A business is a business, and many decisions may not even be what the devs have originally intended, but it’s up to us as a community to help the devs who want to make this game great, to give them a voice, a constructive and reasonable little something to work with, to present as proof, and use as leverage to make the game better.
That’s all we have to do.
Rant over, it’s a bit of a weird post, but if you care even the slightest bit about others hearing this, share it with your friends, not because it’s mine, but because it’s about us.
And for the love of all that’s holy, if you feel the irresistible need to be a sack of mice poop, at least choose to be a tiny one.