What’s the point?

In the Fallen Earth help channel, the same few questions get asked over and over. (No, not “How do I make relish?” and “How do I equip the axe?” though those do get asked an awful lot.)

It’s very common for people in the tutorial to ask, “What’s the level cap and how’s the endgame?” When hearing that Fallen Earth really doesn’t have much of an endgame yet, and the level cap is 45, the response is often, “Then what’s the point?”

What’s the point, indeed…

Many MMO players are inclined to look at the endgame of a potential new MMO as a determinant of how long they’ll stay with the game. What’s the point of subscribing if you’re going to run out of content in a month of playing?

The issue with Fallen Earth is that so much of the game is about the journey, and about exploring, that people who think, “I’ll jam through 45 levels and be stuck with nothing to do” don’t do the game justice. But I’m not surprised they think that way.

When I first tried Lord of the Rings Online, shortly after it’s release, I decided not to subscribe, because I was concerned that the level cap was only 50, and there seemed very little content past that. So I know what those people in the Fallen Earth help channel are thinking. I felt that same way about LOTRO.

For anyone whose main leap into MMOs began with WoW, as mine did (not counting MUDs and Guild Wars), I think it’s hard to break away from the idea that the*real* game starts at the level cap.

In World of Warcraft, leveling characters is easy. In the past, it was far more difficult, but they’ve since reduced the experience required to level and increased the experience earned from quests. So the journey to the level cap is short and sweet for most people. And that’s where the REAL game begins. Gearing up, reputation grinds, raiding… Blizzard has focused so much on the endgame in WoW that the Wrath of the Lich King expansion didn’t provide any new content for characters under the level cap. It was solely an endgame expansion. Blizzard’s primary demographic is clearly the endgame players.

Where I find the most enjoyment in WoW, or “the point” of WoW for me, is getting a character to the level cap then gearing them up. I love the gear grind. In Burning Crusade, I spent hours doing heroic 5-man instances with guildies for badges, and grinding rep with Ogri’la, and the Shatari Skyguard. Getting to exalted reputation levels with the various factions had tangible rewards and was tough to do for the casual player. It took time. As a result, there was far more diversity in the server community.

Maliera as a new level 70 in 2007

Maliera as a new level 70 in 2007

Now, the loot grind is ridiculously easy. Not only is leveling short and sweet, but so is gearing up! The whole point of WoW, for me, is lost. I was never a hardcore raider, so I’m not lamenting that they’ve made content more accessible. I’m glad it’s accessible! I’m just disappointed in that there’s nothing really left for my style of playing. I’ve got six characters sitting at the level cap, and the most recent two level 80s (druid and warlock) were both pretty well-geared within a few days of hitting 80.

Maliera in 2010, days after turning 80, all epic'd out in Tier 9, badge gear and the robe from 25-man ToC. And yes, I made her a blood elf when I faction changed her back to horde.

Maliera in 2010, days after turning 80, all epic'd out in Tier 9, badge gear and the robe from 25-man ToC

I enjoyed Warhammer because I was able to level through PvP (RvR), and gear up through renown, lucky bag drops and later, tokens. The gear grind frustrated a lot of people, which is why Mythic introduced tokens, but it didn’t really bother me.

So after realizing that “the point” of an MMO, for me, is leveling (with friends!) and then the loot grind, I’m starting to look at other games to see what’s out there that might still satisfy that play style…

I’ll still stick around WoW, because I love the people I’ve played with the for the last three years, but I really need something more… hmm… satisfying? Or what’s the point?

2 Responses to “What’s the point?”

  1. Ryan says:

    Just wanted to say great blog. I enjoyed reading it so far.

  2. P says:

    This change in WotLK is the same reason I got bored and stopped playing. I LOVED doing Heroics and such in BC, I didn’t raid very often. But now, Heroics are so short and easy that there’s no rewarding feeling for finishing them. Loot tables are so small you get everything you want in a few runs most of the time. Dailies got repetitive.

    Right now I’m waiting for Cataclysm, which I expect I’ll play for a few months before putting it away for the next expansion. I like WoW, but it just doesn’t have what I like anymore. For me, BC had the best content.

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