WoW! Thoughts! — On the Evolving Game in Warlords of Draenor

Thoughts on how despite player concerns, the item squish and stat changes need to happen now.

After several months of teasing, the first real details of the stat and ability changes are emerging.  It started a few weeks ago with Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Garden of War, then bled into a bevy of twitter responses, and then Bashiok attempted to address the angst after posting a breakdown of the coming racial changes (which amazingly lined up with a leak on MMO-Champion from December that was widely decried as fake). Now, as always, two opposing factions exist;  Either you like the changes and you understand why Blizzard is adjusting the game, or you hate the loss of abilities because it means a reduction in complexity and the game is being dumbed down for noobs.  The problem is that whether or not you agree with the changes, now is the time this has to happen.

First and foremost, in addition to the multitude of abilities changes, the item squish is also happening.  However, to call it an item squish is a misnomer.  The item squish is part and parcel of the stat changes because our items provide the bulk of our stats.  For fun, look at your stats at max level with and without your gear. The item squish and ability bloat both stem from the same issue – the game is now ten years old, and systems are creaking under numbers they were never intended to support.

Just as our stats have gone up exponentially with each expansion, so too has the number of abilities as Blizzard knows that players need tangible rewards with each level gained.  Reconfiguring our stats and items under the assumption that players will be leveling to 100 (or at least leveling from 90 to 100) allows Blizzard to set the game at a place where there is room for future expansion before they will need to do this again.  In theory, our characters are getting ever more powerful, but the game cannot support that, and when we come up against these limits, Blizzard needs to reset the game to allow us to progress.

The other reason the item squish and ability adjustments are happening now is because it makes the most sense.  Blizzard could leave our abilities alone and just tweak all the item stats, but if they are delving into the database to change how systems work, then it’s only slightly more work for them to adjust our stats as well.  World of Warcraft is a large database of numbers that are our characters and items, and rather than just edit part of that database (knowing full well the rest of the changes will be required soon enough), Blizzard is doing all the work now.  The game in total needs retuning, and that is the work Blizzard is doing.

Blizzard has known this day would come for a while (Ghostcrawler initially raised the issue before Mists of Pandaria).  They tweaked the talent system at the time, but it is not surprising Blizzard held off on any further development due to the sheer amount of work before them.  It is entirely possible that the ability bloat issue would not need to be addressed until the expansion after Warlords of Draenor, but for all the work that the item squish entails, Blizzard has to do both now.

Besides, if they can get their systems working for Warlords, then less work remains for the following expansions.  The more stable they the base systems, the quicker content can be produced and released.  Blizzard keeps talking about releasing WoW expansions on ‘a faster cadence,’ but they are currently demonstrating the opposite with Warlords.  There are plenty of concerns that we are going to see a full year of patch 5.4, which will challenge the subscriber base.  However, if the reward for our tribulations is the improved gameplay that Blizzard promises, the item squish and ability changes will have been worth it.   Even if WoW winds up simpler because of the changes, this needs to be done to keep the game running smoothly.  Hopefully, the playerbase will still be around to enjoy the improvements.

WoW! Blurbs!

Warlords of Draenor pre-orders are live!  Don’t look at it as a pre-order – look at it as a $10 discount on level-90-boost, and then you get Warlords free at launch.  It will make outlaying money for all that content now slightly more palatable.

Blizzard may move the boosted 90 spawn point from Timeless Isle to the faction shrines.  I am SHOCKED that PvPer’s would kill fresh, innocent characters like that.  SHOCKED!

Blizzard also released a trailer for the boost-to-90 feature.  Its got one of the new pretty gnomes so YOU ALL CAN SHUT UP NOW

Blizzard released another Dev Watercooler on the incoming changes to healing.  If they really want to build healthy gameplay, they should release WoW Sports for the Wii.

Amazon has an excerpt up for War Crimes.  SPOILER: Garrosh is a smug bastard.

The winners of the Blizzard Student Art Contest have been announced.  When I was a student, all my art was done in crayon.  Ah, college…

Flex Raiding may be set to allow up to 30 member teams.  But what if I want to raid with 31!?!?!  Thanks, Blizz!!!

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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