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.


  1. Agreed. The WoW team can't help it, because they don't know anything else.

    I have to wonder if Holly is literally the only person on the WoW dev team who understands that there are players out there who aren't interested in "rush-rush-rush" then "raid-raid-raid". Certainly not Ion, and certainly not the story team, because as ham fisted their expansion stories can be, they are focused on one thing: explaining why people are in a raid and then explaining what's going on in a raid. (Whether or not the raiders are actually paying attention, given all of the raid sounds and raid leader instructions, is a different story.)

    Maybe the WoW dev team thinks of everybody who doesn't follow the standard WoW pattern as somewhat disposable, because I can't fathom why they'd abandon the whole Discovery portion of Season of Discovery so completely like that.

    1. I actually think that's an over-simplification. Ion in specific is the one who has repeatedly gone on record in interviews about how diverse the WoW player base is and that if you ask ten WoW players what they do each day after logging in, you'll get ten different answers. Retail has also become somewhat less raid-focused than it used to be.

      With SoD it's more that there is a large core audience that likes to complain very loudly (I honestly get the feeling that a lot of SoD players came over from Wrath) and the devs want to be seen as receptive to feedback that things need to be faster and more convenient, without necessarily pausing to think about how that's a road WoW has gone down before and where it leads.

    2. I look at it this way: Ion can have all the interviews he wants, but in the end what is the straw that stirs the drink in WoW? Based on the lion's share of focus, it's raiding. If the WoW dev team wants to take the focus away from raiding, they need to not make raiding the focus of every expac.

      I thought they made strides with that with the smaller patches in Dragonflight, but then all it seems everybody wanted to talk about was that the smaller patches were all fluff. You were one of the people who stood up and said that hey, these smaller patches are really good for the game and good for content, but quite a few people that appear on my YouTube screens (no, I don't click on the click-bait titles) or other areas complain that there's no meat in those releases (i.e. no raiding).

      However, I do believe you're correct in that Wrath players have flooded SoD. I heard through the grapevine that my old raid guild created a Horde guild on SoD and are active there, and I'd imagine they're not the only one judging by the decline in server logins on the Wrath side of the house. I suppose that is where the rush-rush-rush mentality has entered into SoD, because you certainly don't see it in the average Classic Era server cluster.

    3. I think you should be a bit more careful with your judgement of how retail is doing while you're not playing it yourself. Dragonflight has been a banger of an expansion for casual/non-raiding players and I'm planning to make a full post about it in the near future!

      Your YouTube recommendations sound horrible every time you mention them. You need to become better at clicking "not interested" if you keep seeing all this stuff that annoys you. 😉 I never saw any complaints like what you mention.

  2. I wish they'd just redo the 2019 Vanilla Classic again. The seasons can be fun, but I've also found that SoD has basically become all about rushing to the end to do the new raids, which was my biggest concern with it at its announcement. It just doesn't suit Vanilla at all, in my opinion. The strongest part of Vanilla will always be the levelling. Phase 1 also felt a lot better, as 25 was a relatively easy cap to hit for everyone, and the levelling wasn't sped up.

    They should just do Vanilla -> TBC -> WotLK on a 4-6 year cycle over and over again. Doesn't require development resources and once the cycle is over, people can transfer their characters to Classic Era. Then the cycle begins again. I know everyone wants different things, though so Blizzard can't really win in that respect.

  3. I agree that Phase 1 felt better. It was fun in a 'classic' way that Phase 2 hasn't. Phase 2 felt much more like a retail patch. I know they are being experimental with SoD so I hope the Blizzard development pendulum swings back to Phase 3 being more like Phase 1.