Wrath of the Lich King killed Wrath of the Lich King

| Tuesday, January 10, 2012
When I think back on my raiding experience in Burning Crusade, I also think back to my raiding experience in vanilla. There was much I didn't finish in vanilla, or didn't even start, and BC gave me another shot at it. With ten levels and a few tiers of gear inflation, I could go back for another crack at it. Certainly it was not the original experience, an inevitable thing given that we were acting as 10 or so people taking the place of 40, with new class mechanics breaking all sorts of old rules. But it was something, to intentionally misquote an old towel advertisement, almost, but not quite, entirely like the raids.

Treadmills don't give much sense of progress. We gain more levels and gear, and so do our AI enemies. So where are we now? Nowhere new. But we can get a sense of progress when we walk backward off the treadmill, thereby gaining a greater sense of our gain in power as well as the way this metaphor has gone off track. In BC I was stronger than in vanilla and I knew this because in BC I could solo Garr and a few other bosses, where once I could not even glance the wrong way at a trash mob. And in Wrath of the Lich King I knew I was stronger because I could solo Karazhan and bring small groups to other places as well.

The sense of being incomplete was part of what drove me. I'd tried and failed and now I would try again. There were bosses I'd not killed, interesting drops I'd not gotten, quests left undone, AQ gates, anyone? One could say that this is evidence of an elitist, overly restrictive game design. I don't think so. I much preferred to have something left over.

At the least it was a radical change of scenery and way of playing. Having raid content when I'm supposed to do that raid content is nice, but it gets to be the same thing over again, the same cruel loot tables, the same distribution problems, the same shortage of the same class or role, the same thing just in a differently painted room. Old raids offer something different. It's not quite trivial, it's not quite new and not quite old, it's entirely useless and yet, through that uselessness, entirely liberated. When the loot becomes a toy rather than a deserved, demanded reward, people are nicer about it. It's simply a different experience, raiding old raids, than anything else in the game. Raid old raids is a form of content, accidentally created with the Burning Crusade expansion.

But Lich King killed that. The rolling nature meant that I'd done all of the raids, except some of Ulduar which I was sick of anyway and that one place they added near the end that no one did. There was no sense of incompleteness. I felt as if I was done. Bosses dead, badges farmed. There was nothing I'd want to go back for, except maybe Shadowmourne, but by the end I'd grown to hate Icecrown Citadel. Too many months in the same place, farming the same badges, off the same bosses, with the most miserable architecture imaginable. Blue and grey are sorrowful, while at least the red and oranges of vanilla and BC had some fire to them, some happiness or at least rage.

When I felt stalled before, I could go back and progress in the past, going backward for another path forward. Lich King used up all the forward. So when I stalled in Cataclysm, I had nowhere to go back to, nowhere else to go forward, and so I left.


Ahtchu said...

Nothing to say 'cept that I enjoyed this post. Touching on the beauty of accidental content, design flaws with carrots being a focus, and these two gems in particular:
Treadmills don't give much sense of progress
The sense of being incomplete was part of what drove me

Wow Echoes said...

MoP gives a way forward (and also the option to go back to Cataclysm).

Klepsacovic said...

@Ahtchu: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Always good to hear that. :)

@Wow Echoes: Sadly, I don't think I managed to care enough about Cataclysm before I left, so going back in MoP wouldn't do much for me. With LFR I don't see there being much incomplete content for most players, but if there is any, I suppose MoP offers them another shot.

Rush said...

Not to be contrary, but it doesn't sound like you're arguing that Wrath killed Wrath at all. It seems more like you simply exhausted all the content from Vanilla during BC, then finished all of BC content, then moved into Wrath, completed that content and then expected there to be content that you somehow hadn't already steamrolled. I get it if you simply used that title as a bit of sensationalism to intrigue the reader,but otherwise it seems a little dishonest to blame the game and not your own changing desires or interests.

Rush said...

Apologies for the double posy, but I also wanted to touch on your comments about the treadmill and seeking completeness. As a fairly serious raider, the desire for completeness - having the best gear and most kills I can - is a hive part of the motivation to continue raiding. It doesn't feel like a treadmill to me until progression stops completely, and even then there's still more loot to be had.

Klepsacovic said...

"then expected there to be content that you somehow hadn't already steamrolled"
That's it exactly. Vanilla and BC didn't rush me through every single tier, but instead pushed me to the limits of my skill or time, and then the next expansion let me approach the content in a new way. The way vanilla and BC content was given out left me with a desire to go back to it, even including some content I'd already done, whereas LK did not do that.

Anonymous said...

@Rush I think you missed his point. In WotLK, there were normal raids and then heroics. When you were in a good raiding guild you probably stalled somewhere in the heroic progression, meaning you were doing the same fights with added difficulty.

In vanilla, there was only "normal" mode. If you stalled in progression, that meant there was more bosses that you never encountered.

To put it another way, I also got burnt out heading back into ICC on heroics. Same boss just somewhat different mechanics.

Christopher said...

I think the normal > heroic raid progression is awful. If your guild clears normal modes in 2 weeks, it's fine - that seems more like a preview, "look what's coming!" scenario. If you spent a month or two or six getting through regular mode, going back to struggling on the same boss fights is just a huge letdown. I agree with the OP, the vanilla/BC model was better, even if I didn't kill illidan - at least the next step was toward something new, instead of the same bosses, the same rooms, and the same loot, only less fun. My guild cleared Naxx, stalled out on ulduar, then bought our way into toc with badge loot when icecrown was released, and proceeded to kill LK. Once the burger king was dead we could have done heroic mode, but the interest and motivation just weren't there. It didn't feel like progression, it felt like grinding.

Hyperian said...

Added to that its the same bosses with added difficulty week after week after week. Dont get me wrong, i loved the LK fight, but ICC wasnt a magical place like Kara or disneyland, it fell prey to getting boring, even more so because its the only place we had for a long time.

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