I've been playing World of Warcraft for about six months now. My main character, the Forsaken warlock Wormson is level 52, and I have more alts than are good for me. I'm starting to reach the endgame now, and I'm seeing people who began at the same time as me do the same - my wife passed me out long ago, and already has a level 60 character.
There's some social pressure around to get through the last eight levels quickly, so that I can join the rest of the guild and allied guilds in the endgame activities; raid dungeons and the level 60 instances. The thing is that I'm not at all convinced I like them. I am, despite the time I spend playing, still a casual player. The notion of killing Onyxia over and over and over until everyone in the raid group (as many as 60 people) has a particularly prized item fills me with dread. Yet it's unfair to do it any other way - the item drops once per kill, it takes 60 people to kill her, and everyone wants it.
The organisation and discipline that goes into running a raid - that goes into even getting enough people together for a raid - is incredible. Doing it regularly is even more difficult - our guild is currently trying to work out schedules and when people are available and when people might be available and so on. It's proving difficult, because we're all people with jobs and classes to work on, relationships, and lives in general. Some people do shift work, some work evenings, some aren't available on Fridays. Some have other hobbies.
And yet, if you want to keep playing the game, there's not a lot of option but to do these things. There's a limited amount of stuff you can do at level 60 (without getting into the PvP aspects, which are a whole different game) without a group, and a limited amount of stuff you can do even with the standard 5-man group.
Annoyingly, I can't even suggest a good way out of this. If you take away the large group objectives, you're reducing the overall range of stuff to do. If you make more solo content available at level 60, players will speed through it quickly - it takes weeks to program things that can be played in hours - and depending on the rewards, either won't be bothered, or will work through the new content in preference to the raids, thereby leaving those who like the raids short on people.
I suspect that some of the problem lies in not being able to make a permanent - or even temporary - difference to the world. In Dark Age of Camelot, PvP play essentially is the endgame. Towers and keeps can be captured, and the ebb and flow of these captures provides ongoing, player-driven objectives. perhaps if there was PvE content with this kind of effect in World of Warcraft - a city that could be reclaimed from an invasion, perhaps, and kept clear - there would be more enjoyment in the end game.
However, I'm still looking at it from the outside, and at some level, I'm looking forward to getting there and experiencing it, at least for the first while. And I always have my alts...
Posted by Drew Shiel at January 18, 2006 5:50 PM