Casual Endgame?

When I first logged back into WoW back in December, I was surprised by how many people on my Battle.net friends list were still playing. I guess that's one of the things that keeps bringing many people back to WoW time after time: always having friends to play with. I actually got several offers to join groups for endgame PvE or PvP, but politely declined as I had no interest in getting back into that aspect of WoW. I just wanted to have some fun exploring the new content on a casual basis with my pet tank. But hey, WoW is supposed to be the perfect game for that kind of thing, isn't it?

While we were levelling, this play style worked very well. We actually played quite a lot then, simply because we were having fun. Ever since we hit max level however, I feel that our engagement has been declining. Right now I basically log on to tend to my crops, serve some noodles, do a bit of archaeology and log off again.

I really loved the Tillers by the way. I loved to see the progression of the story and unlocking more parts of the farm. Once that was done, I worked on becoming best friends with all the individual Tillers. Once that was done, I maxed out all my cooking ways and did the various extra quests that popped up along the way (the whole noodle cart thing, cooking one of each max-level food etc.). But now that that's all said and done I can feel my interest waning. I continue planting crops every day to fulfill work orders, but it doesn't feel nearly as satisfying.


I have quite a few factions left that need reputation, but I'm just not really a dailies person. That's not to say that I never do them, but even just a couple of days in a row tend to make me feel burnt out. I just don't do this whole "highly controlled drip-feed of content" thing very well. When I'm new to a faction and my interest is high, I'd happily binge play and do loads of stuff for them, but of course the game won't let me do that.

Timeless Isle

The Timeless Isle is a funny thing. I've noticed that once I'm actually there and doing stuff, I tend to have decent amounts of fun, but for some reason I really struggle to motivate myself into going there in the first place. I blame the stupid flight path that insists on going all over Jade Forest before actually turning towards the Isle...

Pet Battles

I haven't really said anything about pet battles aside from a brief mention when I first discovered the feature and that it looked pretty fun. I actually picked out my favourite pets after that and made an effort to level them, but around pet level twelve or thirteen my interest just fizzled out again as it started to feel pretty dull and grindy to continually swap pets in and out just to fight dozens of parrots. Switching zones for variety in opponents didn't really help either. I don't know... I don't think it's you, pet battles; it's me.


We did each Pandaria dungeon at least once, including the heroics (I think there might be one or two we haven't done on heroic left; not sure right now) but there doesn't seem to be much reason to do them beyond seeing the story once, as the gear drops become useless quickly and valor rains from the sky anyway.


There are actually quite a few scenarios left that we haven't done yet, but I haven't been too impressed by the whole feature anyway. I think my interest in queuing for them took a nosedive after the randomiser gave us one too many that seemed to be part of a bigger story somewhere that we didn't know anything about, leaving me with the feeling that I shouldn't queue up again until I've explored every nook and cranny of Pandaria and can be sure that I know the context. (This is an interesting contrast to the dungeons by the way, where I had no problem "jumping ahead" in the story.)

Gearing Up

Ah, that old staple of MMO entertainment: if you've got nothing else to do, improve your character's gear! I recalled that working reasonably well even on a casual basis in WoW as it was before I left it, as you'd get justice and valor points for running dungeons and could then use those to buy gear that was only slightly worse than current raid drops.

How times have changed!

Bizarrely, valor is pretty much raining from the skies these days, as you get some even just for doing daily quests, but finding things to actually spend it on seems to be the tricky part now. I don't find myself saving up to buy valor gear, I find myself frantically searching for vendors because I'm about to hit the cap again and don't know what to spend my money on! I thought it was highly hilarious when I flew to a place where valor and justice point vendors were highlighted on the in-game map, just to find that the NPC labelled as "Valor Quartermaster" won't accept any currency but justice points. Instead, bits and pieces of valor gear are hidden away on various reputation vendors across Pandaria, if you can find them and if you have the right reputation level, but if you want anything close to a full set of "good" gear, it seems that the only way to get one is to run Looking For Raid.

Now, since the last time my pet tank and I went in there wasn't too bad, we decided to give it another go. And it still wasn't too bad, but frankly, as a "casual" form of endgame I think it kind of sucks. The problem is that if you factor in queue times, time to actually kill all the trash and bosses and the occasional wipe, just clearing one raid still takes several hours... so basically as long as a "proper" raid, only without any of the fun bits like socialising or facing challenging content. After spending a weekend in various LFR runs, we were utterly exhausted and once again feeling burnt out.

I think the end of my nostalgic revisiting of the World of Warcraft may be drawing near...


Proving Grounds

Apparently there was a bit of a discussion the other week about a blue comment saying that in the next expansion, a Proving Grounds silver medal will be required to do heroic dungeons via the dungeon finder. I don't have much of an opinion on this as I'm only really interested in a "decent human being" filter if anything, and that's something that Blizzard will never provide. As far as random hoops to jump through go, they could have picked something worse to force people to demonstrate their skill.

I do feel that this whole thing has given me an excuse to actually talk about Proving Grounds though, which are once again a feature that's new in Mists of Pandaria. I have to admit that my first impression of them was very positive. I think that it makes sense to give people a challenge against which they can test themselves to practice their skills, and since Blizzard seems to have given up on the idea of levelling being supposed to teach you anything, having a substitute at endgame is better than nothing.

I managed to get the bronze healing medal easily, and only failed once on the silver one as I forgot to heal myself at a crucial moment the first time around. The behaviour of the NPCs I had to heal was both true to real life and amusing. My favourite moment was when two of them got into a discussion about my dispelling, with one of them urging me to dispel faster, while another took my side and stated that I was clearly already doing the best I could.

After that, I thought I'd switch to feral and try the dps challenge next. I managed bronze without too much trouble (though it did take me a couple of attempts), but silver soon had me running up against a wall. The bugs that conjure amber globs just forced me to lose too much dps time dodging their conjurations and I inevitably ran out of time. I got up to the last wave several times, but failed that one every time. Sometimes I also randomly failed on earlier waves again, as I just couldn't get enough clearcasting procs and had to helplessly watch the timer tick down while I was unable to do anything but auto-attack.

I've gone back to re-try the challenge several times now, but having to start on wave one on every attempt gets tedious quite quickly. It's like having to deal with the trash on ye olde Battle for Mount Hyjal, only without the banter and camaraderie. The inconsistency of my own performance is also frustrating, what with the random failures on earlier waves when I have no energy. I can't help but think that the whole challenge would be so much easier as a ranged class, or even just as a melee class that isn't designed around doing a large chunk of its damage via a long-lasting DoT that requires some build-up (and is therefore completely useless in Proving Grounds).

With that in mind, I can't help but think that - while not terrible - this isn't going to be a very fair bar to measure people against in Warlords of Draenor, unless they drastically change the design of some of these challenges in the expansion. Or maybe my continued failure is just another way of WoW telling me that I'm not good enough to play it anymore.