Dragonflight Has Been a Banger of an Expansion

With the War Within alpha launching the other day and the internet being awash with news about everything we get to look forward to in the next expansion, I thought it would be a good time to look back on Dragonflight and give it a bit of a review. Technically we still have a few months of this expansion left, but I feel that regardless of how the Pandaria Remix thing goes, it's not going to move the needle on how people see Dragonflight as a whole in a major way at this point.

Shadowlands seems to be considered one of the worst expansions ever now, but for me it was the first retail expansion since Wrath of the Lich King for which I was subscribed during its entirety, and I honestly thought it was pretty alright. I was only approaching it casually, and since I was focused on Classic, I kind of viewed it as the "inferior" version of WoW that "came free" with my subscription. I ignored pretty much everything power-related and had a good time with the content I did choose to interact with. It was fine.

Ironically, Dragonflight made it clearer to me why so many people hated Shadowlands, because it was just so much better in every way, even I could see that as someone who wasn't entirely "fluent" in retail. The zones were huge and gorgeous, with Ohn'ahran Plains stirring memories of Nagrand, and the Azure Span being vaguely reminiscent of Grizzly Hills, without either of them being straight-up copies. Even what I would consider the "weakest" of the zones, Zaralek Cavern, had its charms and impressed with its seamless integration into the overland world map.

Dragonriding was a smashing success as a new feature (even if it took a little bit of getting used to) and it's great to see it getting carried forward and expanded upon in the next expansion, something that we haven't seen Blizzard do with an entirely new type of gameplay/major expansion feature since Mist of Pandaria's pet battles. (You could make an argument for Legion's world quests and Mythic Plus I suppose, but I feel like those were more tweaks to an existing formula than entirely new features. Either way, it's been a while.)

While this was also the expansion that ended up getting me to try M+ for the first time, I'd like to disregard that for the purposes of this post, since it feels like something that also could've happened in another expansion if things had lined up with my guildies previously the way they did in Dragonflight. Maybe Dragonflight's appeal was a factor in finally getting several of them to the level cap in a timely manner, but I don't feel like I really know that.

However, even leaving our weekly excursions into M+ aside, Dragonflight was just so much more engaging on a casual level. I kind of swore off grinding for gear back in Cataclysm, since the rate at which Blizzard was making gear obsolete every tier was too fast for my liking and made everything feel like a pointless hamster wheel. Dragonflight was the first expansion that managed to make me care about gear again to some degree simply because they actually made it the focus of power progression again after several expansions of temporary systems overshadowing everything else, but also by simply making it so much more accessible to the masses. I think I've done the "Valdrakken weekly" during more weeks than not, simply because it managed to hit a sweet spot between fun content and being rewarding. I didn't care about the exact item level of the gear coming out of the box, I just knew it was almost always a bit of an upgrade for me for doing a little bit of open world content that was also enjoyable, so I often did it not just on one but on multiple characters.

I generally loved all those open world events they kept adding with each patch. Yes, they became a bit of a meme after a while and weren't entirely without issues either, but again, overall they were just simple and fun.

I wasn't too enamoured with the dracthyr when they were first announced, but I mained one all expansion and enjoyed it, so the devs must've done something right there in the end.

The UI revamp and new talent system were a bit overwhelming at first but I think both came out as a net positive in the end as well. (I actively dislike fiddling with talents, but when I finally made some changes to my build for M+, not based on some guide but based on which abilities I'd actually ended up using most runs, the resulting improvement in my gameplay was a very satisfying experience.)

If I had to mark anything down as a bit disappointing it was the profession revamp, which I thought sounded kind of cool in theory but in practice was just kind of off-putting to me. I did the weekly profession quests most weeks, but I never saw a public work order I could actually do (without effectively paying someone else to be allowed to craft something for them) and felt kind of frustrated by how awkward it was to max out crafting skills. It was all just too complicated and grindy and not in a fun way. Oh well.

The story I actually liked overall. I'm not saying it was amazing, and there are plenty of valid criticisms you can throw at it (this T&E video sums up just a few of them) but ultimately most of these didn't bother me that much and I think they got kind of overblown by the community at large because people couldn't really find much else to complain about this expansion (which is telling in itself). Personally I liked that it had a lot of positive moments, where characters got to enjoy a little bit of happiness (even if there were also deaths and bad things happening as always), and it felt like just the right mix of old lore and trying to take things into a fresh new direction. The Primal Incarnates were a brand-new and yet fantastic set of villains for example, which really stood out to me after so many expansions with a lot of utterly rubbish antagonists.

I feel like Dragonflight will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the "great" expansions, the ones where you're not at all surprised if someone says it was their favourite (even if your own preferences might be different). It certainly has been for me, and combined with Classic increasingly going into directions that were not for me, I wouldn't be surprised if I actually spent more time in retail over the past two years than in Classic. (Edit: I belatedly remembered that I still have ManicTime installed so that I could actually check the data for this. Looking at the period from the Dragonflight pre-patch to today, Classic still comes out ahead, but in the past year, I've actually played a bit more retail than Classic.)

If anything, I've got to admit I'm a bit concerned that Dragonflight has given War Within a lot to live up to. I'll undoubtedly play War Within when it comes out and I'm sure it will have some features that will be a lot of fun, but I've got to admit I'm not hopeful that it will manage to be as good as Dragonflight, for a number of reasons that I'll explain in another post some time.


Hardcore after the Hype

I'm in a bit of a funny place with WoW at the moment - a lot of things are happening and many of them good (in my opinion) but I'm still somewhat undecided on what I want out of Classic in specific right now. On a whim, I decided to pay the hardcore servers a visit again. It's been about six months since the death of Lossy the mage, so I was ready to give it another go.

I'm also slowly coming around to some of the arguments that people used to make to me about why they love hardcore - that it's not so much about the permadeath and more about how it changes levelling. I used to say that nothing stops you from taking your time levelling in "normal" Classic either and that I have indeed generally played that way, but I can't deny that the older Classic gets, the more it feels like a certain min-max culture starts to permeate every aspect of it, which can make slower and more casual play styles feel unwelcome. Sure, there were people like that in 2019 as well, but at the time I still felt that I could get away from their influence myself, while it seems harder now somehow.

Anyway, both hardcore realms in Europe at least are low population nowadays. Since I played Alliance on Stitches last time, I decided to create a troll priest on Nek'rosh this time around. The low population meant that my census addon no longer struggled to complete scans, though the numbers are still somewhat larger than those of the era PvE cluster. It also feels busier than era because characters are more spread out across the levels. On era, about 40% of all characters are at max-level, with many of them presumably raid-loggers, while the nature of hardcore means that people are constantly forced to roll up and level new characters, and less than ten percent of all characters my addon registered were level 60.

The addition of self-found mode at the end of February doesn't seem to have made much of a splash, though I did see a fair few characters with the buff in the starting area. I was surprised to find out though that Blizzard cut out the "solo" part of the challenge, so these characters can still group up too. Either way, this is something I'm definitely not interested in, as trade is an important part of earning money for me and I bought a wand from the auction house as soon as I could afford it.

When Blizzard released that video about the top ten causes of death in hardcore, it was noteworthy to me that most of them happened in Alliance starter zones. Looking at things from the Horde side, it definitely stood out to me how much less dangerous questing in Durotar seemed to be, with no caves full of kobolds or lakes guarded by murlocs. There are basically only two really deadly places: Skull Rock (which I've avoided so far) and Fizzle Darkstorm's camp. I was lucky and ran into a druid when I approached the latter, because even though I knew it was dangerous, I was still taken aback by Fizzle's almost instant respawn and how easy it was to aggro more and more adds... needless to say, if we hadn't grouped up, the druid and I most likely would've both been toast, but as it was we were fine.

In general all my interactions with other players have felt very positive. Drive-by buffing is alive and well, and someone randomly traded me some low-level herbs after they saw me making potions in the alchemy shop. A level 42 randomly whispered me to ask if I was French - not sure what that was about.

When I got a polite and unobtrusive invite to what's supposedly the server's biggest levelling guild, I took it. I was kind of missing the death announcements to be honest (and I didn't want to install the addon for that). Weirdly though, I still didn't see any even after joining the guild, even as I could see others responding to death announcements seemingly happening somewhere. Eventually I figured out that Blizzard apparently moved all death announcements to its own dedicated global channel called HardcoreDeaths, and for some reason it's not turned on by default. It was good to see that random deaths were still a thing after I joined it, though with a lower (and presumably more experienced) population they were few and far between compared to the craziness of hardcore's launch.

I'm not sure where this is going to go, if anywhere. Maybe I'll just die again in a few levels (which seems like a likely scenario, to be honest), but for the time being it's a nice distraction.


Pandamonium and Wondering about the Future of Classic

Not content to baffle the WoW player base with the release of Plunderstorm, Blizzard surprised with another announcement of a new game mode three days ago: WoW Remix: Mists of Pandaria, coming with patch 10.2.7 later in the spring. This seems to match what was previously called "Timerunning: Pandamonium" on the 2024 roadmap for WoW. That name was already a pretty big hint towards what it was going to be: something similar to Timewalking and something to do with pandas (even if the complete alien-ness of Plunderstorm combined with some additional datamining also led some people to speculate that it could be something else entirely).

The release of the previously linked article confirmed that it is indeed something similar to Timewalking and something to do with pandas, namely "a time-limited event which allows players to re-experience the entirety of the Mists of Pandaria expansion at an accelerated rate from level 10 through 70". There is still a lot we don't know and quite a few details left to be clarified, but we do know that it will require you to create a new character and that there will be a lot of special loot exclusive to this mode/phase.

Most of the reactions I've seen to this have been positive, and I've got to admit I'm kind of excited myself. Blizzard's still doing its usual thing of trying to bank on FOMO, talking about how fast levelling will be and spending a lot of time promoting rewards that I don't really care about, but I'm still looking forward to this event for a number of reasons:

  • I always say that retail WoW has this huge world and wealth of old content that is severely underused, so them actually making an event focused on re-using an older expansion will always be a good thing in my book.
  • I only played for a few months in late Mists of Pandaria, when quite a few bits of content had already come and gone, making the post-launch questing experience a bit disjointed. I have some tentative hopes that this event will give me a chance to get a more cohesive picture of the expansion (though some early clarifications are already tempering my enthusiasm in that area - e.g. we still won't get to see the Vale of Eternal Blossoms how it was before it as destroyed, and the legendary cloak quest line - which, from my understanding, was Wrathion's in-game debut for non-rogue players - will not be reinstated).
  • It's an event focused on levelling and doing content of all kinds, which sounds like a great opportunity for my husband and me to roll up another levelling duo and have some quality play time together.

While it's officially an experimental, limited-time event, it's also not hard to see how the reception of this "Remix" could have a big impact on the game going forward. Some ideas that I've seen thrown around are:

  • Maybe there'll always be an event revisiting an older expansion during the content gap before a new expansion in the future.
  • Maybe this will be a template for how to improve Chromie Time.
  • Maybe the option to replay an old expansion like this will simply become a permanent feature if enough people like it.

I would happily take any of these to be honest, and based on the positive reception I've seen so far, I think this event will absolutely be a success. For as much as certain parts of the player base and dev team have pushed for retail to focus on endgame at all times, there are still a lot of players who enjoy levelling in some form or another and/or who have nostalgia for older content that isn't currently being catered to in Classic.

Speaking of Classic though, I find it very curious that Blizzard would choose to have a nostalgia-filled event focused on the Mists of Pandaria expansion at a point in time when Classic Mists of Pandaria is presumably less than a year away. Yes, you read that correctly. We didn't just get a launch date for Classic Cataclysm the other day, but also a timeline that sees the expansion already hitting its last patch in January 2025. And here I thought they were going fast by making us go through each Classic expansion in less than two years, never mind less than a single year!

Most people seem to have read that as "haha, they just want to get to Classic MoP quickly", but I'm honestly not so sure anymore. I know that the Classic and retail player bases are not the same, but based on my own anecdotal experience at least, they're also not as totally separate as social media would sometimes have us believe, with many players happy to dip into both every now and then, even if there is one version they prefer. With that in mind, having a retail event that focuses on levelling through Mists of Pandaria, just to follow it up with the launch of Classic Mists of Pandaria six months later seems positively insane. No, it wouldn't be exactly the same, but way too similar to not feel repetitive to anyone who took part in the former.

This morning I was also hit by just how much the Classic player base has shrunk again throughout Wrath of the Lich King Classic, as a guildie pointed me towards forum threads about upcoming realm consolidations for both Europe and the US. I was struck by the fact that Nethergarde Keep, the server to which I was "forced" to migrate during Classic Burning Crusade and which at the time had about three times the population of Hydraxian Waterlords, is now also on the chopping block for being too small.

It looks like "regular" Classic will be down to about a dozen servers worldwide come Cataclysm, and almost all of them single-faction. I was shocked to see that even the PvE servers are not immune to this madness, as even the Wrath version of good old Pyrewood Village is 97% Alliance now. I thought things were already bad two years ago, but they are so much worse now. "Progressive" Classic is a mess with a declining player base, going into a controversial expansion that is unlikely to reverse that trend.

Before the official announcement of Cata Classic, many of us were wondering how far the Classic train could realistically go, as Wrath of the Lich King seemed like a natural end point. Once the continuation into Cata was confirmed, I saw a lot of comments along the lines of "well, then Classic MoP is a given" or that they could definitely keep going until Legion at least. However, after seeing those Wrath Classic population numbers and the timing of this "WoW Remix", I'm not so sure anymore. There is nostalgia for the (comparatively) more recent expansions, yes, but maybe Blizzard have decided to try and cater to that in retail instead of investing more money into rebuilding old expansions exactly as they were for a continually shrinking player base.

To be clear, I'm not implying that Classic as a whole is failing. While it was ultimately a disappointment to me personally, Season of Discovery still seems to be doing well. The "problem" is that it actually seems to be doing better than "regular" Classic by quite a margin, so I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard decided to stop adding more old expansions to the Classic train and pivoted towards more seasonal servers or maybe even re-starting the Classic cycle from Vanilla again, while trying to pull players with nostalgia for the later expansions into retail instead, with dedicated time slots where those expansions are highlighted for replay.



A few weeks ago, WoW released its patch 10.2.6. In a move that's very unusual for Blizzard, they kept its contents a complete secret beforehand, with the only hint that we really had being a skull and crossbones flag on the roadmap and a comment from Holly Longdale about it being accessible to both retail and Classic players.

It turned out to be a whole new game within the retail client called Plunderstorm, a pirate-themed battle royale set in the Arathi Highlands. There was a lot of hubbub around this, and I really felt like I should have something to say about it, but the truth is that everything about it was just one big "blah" to me.

The wider WoW community hyping up the mystery patch to be everything they could've ever dreamed of, just to then be very angry/disappointed when it turned out to not be that, was not surprising but tiresome.

I could understand Blizzard wanting to try something new by keeping a patch's contents a secret, but I'm not really sure why they chose to release this of all things. It has absolutely nothing to do with WoW other than sharing general assets and could just as well have been a complete stand-alone game, with the renown reward track being a crossover promotion like they've had for titles like Hearthstone in the past.

Maybe they recalled the fate of Heroes of the Storm and what it means to be more than five years late to the party when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon for a popular new genre. It's unlikely that they would've been able to make waves with "Blizzard joins the battle royale" seven years after Fortnite. Maybe it was some sort of experiment to see how far they could push the WoW client. Who knows.

I myself had never played a battle royale game before and have no real interest in the genre (plus I don't particularly care about pirates as a theme either), but figured I should at least give it a go in WoW since it was right there on the character selection screen. And once again, my first impression was mostly "blah" - I neither loved nor hated it. Plunderstorm is just a game mode that exists. Hard to make a post out of that.


For some reason I've been feeling compelled to come back to it for a couple of matches at a time. The quick drop-in, drop-out nature of the game is definitely something different from my usual MMO deep-dives, and the daily bonus reward (even if it's somewhat buggy and appears very inconsistently) is a nice incentive to just have that one quick match in the morning or evening.

I like that the "lobby" the game starts in gives you the opportunity to run around and familiarise yourself with the base mechanics like star mobs, chests and abilities. And it's kind of fun to land on a star mob when the match starts and immediately get a spell and a bunch of XP. Though I find that the enjoyment quickly diminishes after I've cleared out the mobs and treasure in my immediate vicinity - as mobs don't respawn during the match, you have to roam further and further afield to find anything to interact with, either to pick up another player's scraps or to engage in PvP.

The PvP focus seems to be one of the most controversial aspects of Plunderstorm, because WoW has a lot of casual PvE collectors who don't like being "made" to PvP for cosmetics, and who I guess feel that they're kind of being "lured in" with the promise of rewards for killing spiders and looting chests, just to then serve as cannon fodder for actual PvPers.

I don't mind PvP in principle but I don't enjoy it in Plunderstorm either, because it requires aiming and dodging and I'm bad at those things. Nine times out of ten when I encounter another player I'm the one who ends up dead. I'm just not too broken up about it because most of the time when this happens, I've already "exhausted my fun" for the match anyway and am basically ready for it to be over. The highest rank I've ever achieved in a match was #5, and that was pure dumb luck as I somehow ended up in area seemingly away from everyone else for a long time.

There's been much praise for the spectator mode you enter after dying, though I'm not sure how much use it actually gets. In my very first match I did indeed stick around to spectate after being eliminated, simply because I wanted to see how the rest of the match was going to go and gain a better understanding of what was happening, but since then I just always click "leave match" immediately after dying, to either start over or go off to do something else.

I've made it up to renown rank 12 (out of 40) and there are some pretty nice rewards on the track - I've earned a mount and two pets so far for example. Apparently the event is supposed to run until June... I wonder if that's enough time to get to 40 with my casual level of play, or whether I'll lose interest before then anyway. We'll see.


WoW's Post-WoD Sub Numbers

Blizzard infamously stopped publishing WoW's active subscriber numbers during Warlords of Draenor, after they had fallen to less than half of their previous peak of 12 million. Since then, there's often been speculation about how well or badly the game is doing, but ultimately we didn't have access to any real data to back this up.

Apparently this changed this week, as Franchise Manager John Hight gave a talk at the annual Game Developers Conference called "The First 30 Years of Warcraft: The Making of a Game Universe" on Wednesday. There isn't a recording available online at the time of me writing this, but apparently some photos of his presentation were leaked, revealing some surprisingly open admissions of failure in regards to Shadowlands and showing a graph of overall subscriber trends since the launch of the Legion expansion.

Now, this graph didn't include numbers, but YouTuber Bellular matched the graphic up with information from previous public earnings reports to make some pretty convincing guesses:

Screenshot from the video "Report: WoW's Actual Subscriber Count & Blizz's Official Shadowlands Post-mortem"

There are a lot of interesting tidbits to take away from these numbers:

  • Even at its lowest of lows, WoW still had 4 million subscribers, easily eating any other classic MMO's lunch. The game still sporting 7 million subscribers as it's approaching its 20th anniversary is actually pretty insane.
  • That lowest of lows happened after the launch of BfA, but subscriptions then surged again with the launch of Classic, reaching a peak of over eight million, which was the highest number they had seen since the release of Warlords of Draenor.
  • Shadowlands did indeed drop off very hard (a slide in Hight's presentation specifically calls this out) and was presumably only saved from dropping even lower than BfA due to the fact that overall subscription numbers were still propped up by Classic.
  • Dragonflight had an unexpectedly weak launch, but has had "record post-launch stability and growth", with current sub numbers actually exceeding the ones seen at the expansion's release. Classic is presumably still helping to some degree though, so it's hard to say how Dragonflight has performed on its own. Regardless, there's a clear recovery going on compared to the doldrums of 2022.


Casual Keystone Master Reflections

Last weekend I hit a pretty significant milestone in retail WoW: me and several of my guildies got the Keystone Master achievement for completing a Mythic +15 for the first time.

It was a really nice run as well; we only suffered three deaths in that Black Rook Hold (two of which were people getting squished by boulders) and we finished with almost ten minutes to spare, which is rare for us even on lower keys.

To more experienced M+ players this probably means nothing, but to me it felt like something that we'd been working towards for a very long time, from our tentative first steps into mythic in season 1, to the growing pains we suffered in season 2. Season 3 has been a bit better in that regard... but I'll write some more about that in a separate post.

I think I finally figured out the biggest challenge to being successful in M+ as a casual player - and it's that the mode feels designed for people who run twenty keys or more per week.

There is just so much information to digest and things to learn in a single M+ season: eight different dungeons make for thirty-two boss fights you need to master, at least as many if not more trash mechanics you need to understand, paths to figure out to achieve the correct trash kill percentage, and then multiple affixes on top of that which rotate every week... it's a LOT.

The problem with being casual, which in our case means running about four dungeons per week, is that several weeks can pass between you seeing the same dungeon twice, and do you really remember every single mechanic from the two or three times you've run it before by the time it comes around again? Of course not!

We generally try to run four different dungeons every week for the sake of variety (which I think is understandable), but it was kind of eye-opening when this season we decided to run the same dungeon twice in one day. The other week we bricked a Throne of Tides so hard it's not even funny - it must've been a +13 or +14 I think and we spent a full hour or so in there. First we wiped multiple times on Commander Ulthok, and after finally getting him down we did the same thing on Ozumat, to the point that my husband was close to losing it again and kept saying that we were clearly too bad at this game and couldn't do it. This prompted our guildie to fetch his more experienced brother (who had helped us out before) and to stream our next boss attempt to him - and the funny thing is that said brother didn't really have anything to tell us other than to comment that we shouldn't run around like such headless chickens when we got the pure water buff, and yet, just by virtue of having him watch us, we suddenly succeeded on the next attempt, clearly pulling ourselves together out of sheer embarrassment. We then did another Throne of the Tides that same afternoon and it was super smooth, because all the pain points of the previous run were still fresh on our minds. That +15 Black Rook Hold was also preceded by another run of the same dungeon that had been a lot less smooth (though we didn't fail the timer), ensuring that by the time we did the +15 we actually remembered what we were doing.

I can't help but wonder how we would have done if we had tried Mythic Plus before Dragonflight introduced the concept of having a different set of M+ dungeons every season. I imagine it must have been quite boring to run the exact same dungeons every season, but at least most of what you learned in the process stayed useful throughout the rest of the expansion, instead of you having to learn new bosses and trash mechanics from scratch every major patch. It's weird how that increased dungeon variety is both more interesting and an additional obstacle to more casual participation.

With that in mind, I'm very curious to see how we will do in season 4. Not only will that take us back to the original Dragonflight dungeons we visited in seasons 1 and 2, but Blizzard is also going to do a "difficulty squish" that will raise the difficulty of heroic and mythic zero dungeons, with the new M+ starting at what's effectively +10 now. I'm tentatively hopeful that this will put our casual group in a better position for season 4 than we've been in before, as we've at least seen all the original Dragonflight dungeons before (even if we may not remember them that well), and the increased damage output in mythic zero will (hopefully?) make it easier to learn the boss mechanics properly there before having to deal with additional complications like timers and affixes. Currently in low keys, you can be healed through doing a lot of things completely wrong, so you don't really realise just how badly you're doing until you die to those same mechanics on a higher key, but then who wants to pause and review tactics while a timer's ticking? We'll see how it goes.


Is Season of Discovery Becoming Season of Mastery 2?

It's been a bit quiet on here for the last two weeks, mostly because I think I may well be done with Season of Discovery. I managed to level my dwarf priest to 30, but since then I haven't really had any particular urge to log in, even if the RP server makes for a nicer environment than the PvE megaserver. I'm not saying that I definitely won't check back on it at some point, but right now I just don't really feel any incentive to do so.

When Season of Discovery was first announced at BlizzCon, I was intrigued by how it was being promoted as a season more focused on levelling and exploration, and it did feel like that to me in phase one, but phase two... not so much.

Exploring and questing in the open world is made unpleasant for most players as the megaservers are too big to sustain the kind of population they have, even with layering, so everyone ends up grinding dungeons instead and then burns out. (I've actually heard Scarlet Monastery being referred to as "the scarlet prison"... that tells you everything you need to know, I think.) You'd think that if the devs wanted the focus to be on open world gameplay being enjoyable, they would've addressed that.

Yet Blizzard is once again desperate to push everyone into "endgame". I thought the 50% XP buff for levels 1-25 when phase two started was quite reasonable to get people into the same levelling bracket, but they've now increased the XP buff to 100% and made it last all the way to 40. In a way I get why they'd do that, but is your season still about levelling when you're trying that hard to push people past it? Presumably to get into raiding?

One of the reasons the original Season of Mastery wasn't that interesting to me was that its stated goal was to speed-run people through the levelling process so they could get to raiding and see the old raids in a different light. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and from everything I heard about it, some of the changes made to the raids in SoM were pretty neat and interesting if you were looking for more challenge out of that content. It just wasn't for me.

I was really hopeful that SoD would be different, but at this point it doesn't really feel all that different to me, what with the game pushing you to max level at double speed... for what reason other than to raid? It doesn't matter that the current level cap is 40 and that the current raid is Gnomeregan, it's the same concept and makes it feel like Blizzard is just falling into the same old patterns of behaviour again, catering to the exact same crowd and turning everyone else off.