Now that we have had about a month to spend on Draenor, it has become clear to me what my favorite innovation in the new expansion has been. After the daily quest explosion that was Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard seemingly overcompensated by severely reducing the number of daily quests. While there are daily quests for fishing or for the stables or for dungeon running, the primary daily quests for advancing your character have been replaced by one daily quest given in the garrison. Each day, players have a choice to assault a different region of Draenor and get an award of apexis crystals – which is a currency for high-level rewards this expansion. These assaults are quietly Warlords of Draenor’s greatest innovation.
Daily quests in Mists were decried for two reasons. First, they gated epic gear which is required for raiding. The second reason was that some of the reputations were also gated behind other reputation grinds. Each day players who wanted to improve their character had to log in and do as many of the daily quests available, and then, after getting to revered with the one specific faction (the Golden Lotus), they had to start the reputation grind over for two additional factions. For players who just wanted the quickest path to high level gear (which previously just meant earning enough valor points – usually obtained from running dungeons), it was an endless list of chores to repeat each day.
Blizzard’s decision in Mists to remove the limit of twenty-five daily quests seemed like a favor, but it simply encouraged players to gorge on daily quests until they could no longer stand it. After the initial outcry, Blizzard worked to eliminate daily quests from their content patches as the expansion wore on, culminating in the design of the Timeless Isle. Although it had two daily quests and a weekly quest (all to kill and loot mobs), the primary function of the Isle was for players to explore the island and complete the quests however they wanted. Blizzard was pleased with how that zone turned out.
At Mists launch each faction had a daily quest hub where players would go and receive about six quests that would send them to an area where they would have to kill certain mobs, loot certain items, and interact with certain objects. It made sense because players would have to kill and loot the mobs while running to the objects, but usually in trying to find six eggs to squish, players would wind up killing significantly more than the eight egg-defenders they were tasked with slaying. These creatures would provide loot, but after completing the initial task any additional mobs just became an annoyance. The innovation of the assault in Warlords has completely negated this effect.
Each day in Warlords, a map in the Garrison Town Hall lets players choose between a single-player or a group assault quest with the promise of apexis crystals as the reward. Players are directed to one of several areas littered with mobs, and upon arrival, a little bar appears to measure the progress of the assault. As players run around the area, places such as a Warsong Camp, an Ogre Stronghold, or a Legion Battlefield, each mob they kill or object they interact with increases their progress. It is the same mechanics as the prior daily quests had – kill X number of mobs, destroy Y number of things, but now there is no specific amount of each to be dealt with.
Instead, players are free to roam, and when they get their assault meter to 100%, be it by killing 100 Everbloom Wasps, 20 Lumbering Ancients, or throwing rocks at 100 Blighted Axebeaks, players have completed the objective and can return to the garrison for their reward. The end result is that while players are working on the quest, they are free to attack everything that is hostile and touch everything that lights up. They are not stuck with one singular purpose, waiting for a specific creature to spawn or looking for that one last object, as every other creature, that a moment ago was providing them with gameplay, now becomes an annoyance that is preventing them from achieving their goal.
What these assault quests have done is remove the grindy nature of the daily quests. Players are not only able to choose how to complete the quest, but they can work with what the environment provides. When given a quest to kill eight specific mobs, if someone came through and killed them right before the player arrived, then that player would have to wait through a hopefully short respawn timer. Instead, if all of a certain mob are killed, there may be other mobs nearby that will still yield assault credit, or there may be objects to interact with instead. A player is not stuck running around looking for one specific creature anymore, and that significantly reduces the tedium daily quests used to create.
Fundamentally, it makes sense. Quest objectives at best are an arbitrary measure of attempting to simulate the effectiveness of combat. In a world where mobs endlessly spawn, there needs to be some point at which players stop trying to defeat all the enemy forces, because they literally cannot win. Players would never leave the starting zone, because they would be stuck trying to eliminate the infinite quillboar menace in Mulgore, for example, and never progress into the larger world. The assault mechanic takes this abstraction, and applies it in such a way that it feels natural.
If a player was tasked with crushing six eggs but can only find five, most real quest givers would be forgiving if the end result is that the overall force being dealt with was defeated. Blizzard finally found a way to implement this in game without making the game easier. The basics are still the same – go to a zone, kill mobs, clicks on stuff, earn rewards – but it is now done in a way that lets the player simply play, rather than having to knock items off a task list.
I look forward to seeing this assault mechanic applied as Warlords progresses. It is not clear how many content patches this expansion will have, but if they contain improvements to the questing experience like this, then this will be a fun expansion to play through.
Argi, the space goat, is a pet now available in the Blizzard store. All proceeds go to the Red Cross for ebola research. Why not just send them some First Aid in Draenor scrolls so we can get their profession level to 700? http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/17047515/adopt-argi-now-and-support-the-american-red-cross-12-3-2014
Salvage Yard rewards have been updated. For something involving ‘salvage’, I get way too much vendor trash. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/15538104290#12
The Grommash Hellscream statue is available for pre-order in the Blizzard store. The Iron Horde will invade your wallet!!! http://gear.blizzard.com/index.php/default/grommash-hellscream-statue.html