Back to Square One: The Expansion Shuffle
You must unlearn what you have learned. – Some puppet in a movie
Like some untold horror from ages past, it looms over us as we bask in its ever darkening shadow as it approaches. The excitement builds to an unappeasable boil and those who have glimpsed the madness to come eagerly prepare for its arrival. The word lingers on the lips of everyone, ‘Cataclysm’. The end of the world. But it is not the first of it’s kind. While Azeroth is scheduled to be sundered and shattered and all manner of other frightening verbs, the simple fact of the matter is that this is a cyclical terror that is doomed to menace us again and again. While Deathwing’s return marks the proverbial end of the world as we know it for our characters, the fact of the matter is that we players face an ‘end of the world’ every time an expansion comes around.
Now that Patch 4.0 is on the PTR the excitement for Cataclysm is beginning to foam with unease and anxiety over what the game is set to bring. Are holy paladins doomed to extinction? Will death knights be just as overpowered as before? Will there be something that hunters won’t want to roll on?! How will mechanic X, Y or Z affect the way I play? And do electric sheep dream of androids? As the questions begin to flow, anxiety turns to frustation. A sense of personal belonging becomes a sense of entitlement: Why did Blizzard break MY class? I didn’t want healing to change this much! I can’t believed they buffed THEM but not ME. For someone like me, who long ago accepted the fact that I can’t expect anything to carry over, it becomes devastatingly entertaining to watch. (Devastating in the sense that you can really really really REALLY tick people off this way)
So, in my tradition of making grandiose lists that benefit no one but myself, here are a few of Oddcraft’s tips for surviving the inevitable “end of the world”:
STEP ONE: EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
Just assume that everything you think and understand about how you play your character is completely wrong and you’ll need to pick it up from scratch. If you want to give it a try, roll a class you’ve never played before, get it to level 15, and go into a dungeon with the most unfamiliar task possible for this class (Healing for tanks, tanking for heals, anything but dps if you’re normally a dps). It’s weird right? Like wearing a sweaty pair of someone else’s sneakers while sleeping in their house, in a room that their grandmother died in a year before. That kinda weird. It’s not unbearable, but it’s a damn awkward feeling.
Occasionally you’ll get that lovely moment where you can feel the heat of the blush spreading across your face as a small line of text points out that you’re doing something horrible wrong and they it should be done is ‘this’. It can come in the form of helpful advice, annoyed scornful anger, or head to desk beating intolerance – but all the same, you’ve just learned that everything you knew was wrong. That’s the feeling you should walk into Cataclysm (or any expansion with). Maybe it’s a bit easier for me because I remember those horrendous n00b moments (Why? Because my personal mindset of always focusing on the negative in my life has me constantly remembering every single little screw up. I’m also a Sagittarius and my favorite colors are green and black. Nice to meet you.) and believe me, I’ve had them. Like being a melee hunter until level 38 when someone in a Scarlet Monastary run was kind enough to explain why exactly Blizz saw fit to hand me a gun, or leveling 1-70 on a warlock using the rotation: Voidwalker goes in -> DoTs -> then wand until dead. I’m not above saying that I need to relearn some things a lot of the time.
STEP 2: BACK IN MY DAY…
Now that you know that everything you know is wrong, the first inclination in your head will be that obviously, everything was better when I did understand it. In Burning Crusade, Vanilla was the best. In Wrath of the Lich King, Burning Crusade was the greatest achievement WoW had ever seen. Who wants to wager that we’ll see people clamoring about how Cataclysm is not as epic as downing the Lich King, or way too easy with the point system tier gear, or that how you leveled your blacksmithing back when it was hard and no one got easy mode ‘multiple points’ for making an item. How dare they be able to do what I did easier and quicker!
Since these is simply a micro version of the generational thinking that leads our parents to think that the world has gone to hell and young people have no respect, and the young people to think that they old people are outdated and do not merit being listened to, I will simply address the topic two fold and say this: Shut. Up. Pretty. Pretty. Please. If you would like to play a static game, in which the situation does not change on a dime, and your hard earned achievements mean the same now as when they first came out, I would like to point you towards your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. They provide excellent methods of developing a proud, strong ePeen that are just as easy to wave around in people’s faces and the simple fact is beating the game on the hardest difficulty does not get any easier in a single player game. There is your Valhalla, brave warrior. Seek it out and drink heartily from your cup in the hall of your fathers.If you think the game is dead, go play something else. There’s a variety of choices out there. One’s that require you to build a strong team to tackle content that the pitiful casual players will never get to glimpse. Just don’t sit here and belly ache about how the game you loved is “dead” in trade chat. You’re not doing anything but a disservice to yourself. (For the record, that’s the same speech I gave my grandparents when I turned 18.)
The alternative to the “please please please be quiet” technique, is to take a step back and look at it in the broader scheme. The people from vanilla were complaining about Burning Crusade, Burning Crusaders were saying the same things about Wrath of the Lich King, and again and again and again. Once you can see the whole thing for what it is, you’ll realize that there’s always something to complain about, that someone always has it easier than you did, and this transcends a single expansion or patch, so this is not a unique or individual event that can be pinpointed for all of this. It’s constant, and ever present. The only way to get past it is to decide that you’ve either had enough and leave or acknowledge the change and move on. This is the same thing that happens every day in the real world between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and TV talk show hosts and their audience. There is no ending it, so the route to go in my opinion is to accept and move on.
As for the reverse, new and youthful players, listen to the wisdom of the old players (when it actually is wisdom… I must stress that. Not everything an old schooler says is a nugget of golden truth, especially when the ‘old schooler’ is a 12 year old wearing a shirt with a NES controller that says ‘Represent’) because if the past two expansions are any indication, expect to see some old fight mechanics repeated and possibly mixed together (Anub’arak in Azjol-Nerub is the Lurker Below with bugs instead of fish people, and how many times have we’ve seen Baron Geddon’s living bomb come back to haunt us?) So they may actually have some fun insights to share with you as to how you can combat the new fights.
STEP 3: ACCEPTANCE
If anything, all these changes be it changes to mana regeneration or making the game easier or harder, should not be looked at with disdain but with the joy of new exploration. It’s the wild west again my friends and we’ve got a brand new world to explore, and all new tools to learn how to explore it with. It’s the joy of learning a new class without having to start with nothing but your backpack and a full suit of vendor trash on your back. Use this as a time to learn something new, and improve yourself with it. What’s the worse that happens? Some things are out of whack in 4.0 and they get tuned again and again until they are back in line. Look at Death Knights from 3.0 to 3.3 – HUGE change. What about the awesome might that was Retadins? – To the ground baby! But also look at the issues with AoE threat, or making it easier to find groups with the dungeon finder.
So yes, 4.0 will be the end of the world as we know it. Just like 3.0 was (Oh god, nerf Death Knights!), and 2.0 was as well (Oh god, nerf Felguards!). Just grab yourself a towel full of supplies and soaked in resources, stick out your thumb for a ride to the next evolution of the game and no matter what, regardless of what you’ve read on forums, no matter what screams of fear echo in the hearts of blog comment sections: DO. NOT. PANIC. And I’ll see you all on the other side.