•   Thursday, December 2, 2021
World of Warcraft

WoW: Shadowlands divides the opinions of the players as rarely before - Column

Table of Contents1

. Story and leveling2. Less loot makes this more valuable....3. the maw - joy or fiasco?4. Endless Grind and Anima5. Subjective impression or objective problem?

WoW is played by so many different people around the world that it's all too natural for opinions on the game's content to vary widely. Still, it seems to me at least that the gap between enthusiasm and dislike has never been as wide as it currently is in Shadowlands. Many of the customizations please one part of the players, while others can't do anything with them at all. And it's not just the gap that seems to be widening. Also the crowd on the respective sides has partly become bigger. Whereas in the past at least the majority of players agreed on whether a change or feature was good or bad, with only a small percentage disagreeing, at first glance the player base is now much more evenly split. If you think a particular piece of content is good or bad, you don't really know anymore if the majority of your fellow players think so as well.

At least, that's how it seems to me whenever I'm talking to fellow players, on the forums, or reading comments under our articles or on other sites. Many of Shadowlands' features divide the gaming community. A few examples?

Story and leveling

The story in WoW Shadowlands is enhanced by many cutscenes and dubbed dialogues, but runs very linear and without big twists or surprises. Source: Blizzard In Shadowlands, Blizzard has massively changed the way the story is told. Instead of various smaller stories, there is a very clear main story that stretches through all four areas to the endgame. It's less complex as a result, but also easier to understand. But is it better now? Opinions vary. Some feel that it makes the story simple, boring, and predictable, which is certainly true in part. On the other hand, players who don't read every quest text and are familiar with the lore of WoW (buy now 14,99 €)

can understand the story.

And even with the newly introduced threads of fate, there is no consensus in the community. Is the new option now a good thing, because you get an alternative, or the downfall of the MMORPG, because you get completely without quests and the experience of the story to the endgame? You can read both over and over again in the comments on this thread.

Less loot makes this more valuable

...

The Great Treasury is the only remaining source of character improvement for many players. Source: buffed

... is an argument made by those who are happy to no longer be overwhelmed with equipment at every turn. Other players, on the other hand, are frustrated when they farm the entire raid and complete countless Mythic Plus dungeons without getting a single useful item. Which group is right about this is, of course, completely in the eye of the beholder. Whether Blizzard's middle ground of increasing loot and introducing bravery points satisfies both sides remains to be seen. Worst case scenario is that both sides are unhappy afterwards, which of course we hope they're not.

The Maw - joy or fiasco?

The most difficult area that has ever existed in WoW - that's how the developers announced

the Maw.

And yes, they kept their word. Hardly anywhere on Azeroth are there so many strong enemies where you have to play carefully. Some players like this and are happy that questing is now a bit more challenging. Others think the Maw is Shadowlands' biggest failure. Boring, ugly, and just unnecessarily and artificially difficult.
The maw divides the spirits - pleasantly challenging or annoyingly difficult? Source: buffed

It's similar with world quests, by the way. They are too annoying and take too long. You can find that in the forums as well as the statement: Finally I have something to do and don't just have to kill a single insignificant mob that lives for three seconds.

Endless Grind and Anima

However, the most heated argument between the parties is whether the elimination of the endless grind really made sense, took away motivation, or was simply replaced by the Anima Grind. The fact is, there is no longer an endless grind that has a direct and significant impact on Player Power, that is, your character's strength. In my filter bubble of WoW players alone, with whom I have direct contact, this fact elicits joy and displeasure in equal measure. "Finally time for Twinks, other games, and less pressure to be constantly online," some cry. "I have nothing to do after three hours on Wednesday and can't improve my character anymore, how stupid is that?" screech the others. Again, both opinions are completely legitimate and are simply based on the preferences of the individual players. It's also exciting to see that after BfA, people seemed to agree that doing away with the endless grind was a good idea. Apparently, however, some players have now realized that at the end of the day, they kind of miss it. For sure, the elimination of titan forged has an impact here as well, thanks to which random upgrades for a same item that already exists will no longer happen. For some of the players, the motivation to do more than just the bare minimum has been completely lost, which has ultimately made the game less fun.
Is the Animagrind necessary or optional? This decides whether you consider cosmetic items, pets, and mounts necessary or optional. Source: buffed

Instead of player power, we can grind anima until we drop in Shadowlands. This is mainly spent on upgrades to your sanctum or cosmetic rewards, has almost no influence on your strength in battle and is therefore largely optional. Because of this, the developers have designed the feature so that you can play for months before you have all the rewards together. However, this doesn't suit some of the players. Completeists want to achieve everything without farming for twelve hours a day for years. Others are annoyed by farming the same thing for the entire expansion.

On the other hand, there are the players for whom optional actually means that they don't do it if they don't feel like it and who like the fact that no relevant items can be earned with this system. They are happy that they can farm something at any time and still get some form of reward for it many months from now - be it pets, mounts or transmog sets.

Subjective impression or objective problem?

Now the question I have is whether this is just a subjective impression on my part. Maybe I haven't looked as closely in the past when it came to the amount of players who thought something was good or bad. Or maybe I've become more sensitive over the years, so statements like "Shadowlands is total crap, I quit right away" or "No question, Shadowlands is the best expansion in many, many years" are more likely to stick in my mind. Or the various voices have just gotten louder, making it harder for me to miss them. But in my - admittedly not necessarily representative - filter bubble, and from my impressions in forums and comment columns, the community is more divided regarding Shadowlands than it has been in a long time. The impression is also supported by the feedback that reaches us directly and in which we have to justify ourselves to about the same extent, why we would always downplay / praise feature XY in articles or in the buffedCast.

The community seems to be divided in its opinion as rarely before. Source: Blizzard

If I am indeed correct with my observations, a serious problem could be brewing for WoW. Because if the players are really so divided about various features, the developers of Blizzard are faced with the dilemma, in which direction they should continue to develop. And that's exactly what they tried to do with Shadowlands. They are currently putting more emphasis on feedback, which was also shown at BlizzConline, where they didn't go into detail about various innovations, because they want to work them out together with the feedback of the players. But if it goes one way now, you're no longer just making a small minority of the player base unhappy, but possibly a more significant portion, which could translate into dissatisfaction and declining player numbers.

That's why I'd like to ask you: Do you also think that the opinions of the players are getting more and more different, or does this weird guy, who wrote his personal and subjective impression in this column, have a wrong picture of the situation?

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