On The Wrong Side Of History

I have talked a lot about World of Warcraft, but I have never really explained why I am still playing it. Recently, someone brought something to my attention that really crystalized it for me.

Player totals. What people are doing when they play WoW. For example, here is the totals on ranked PvP (fighting other players) in the game.

And here are those same participation totals for PvE (dungeons, raids, playing the computer).

Around 46,000 vs over 6.5 MILLION players. I should have known this…I did know this, but I didn’t know it was THAT far gone.

And even of THESE numbers I mostly play a different unranked mode that has even fewer players. Effectively, I am playing a game within a game within a game.

But I am rambling. Lets put some structure into this. Start with a bit of history.

The Past

I started playing WoW for a few simple reasons: all my friends were playing it, I was looking for the next messing with other players game, and I had nothing going on. I was doing the long distance thing with my now wife, so I had time to kill. And this was the time killer.

I played a bunch of UO back in the day and the thing to do in that game was to mess with other players.

And that’s what MMORPGs were to me. A place to hang with your friends and harass randoms. Second Life but you can kill someone and take their shit.

So when WoW came around, that was the plan. I’ll never forget the leveling grind, because I was basically alone. Everyone did it already on their characters, so I felt already behind. I remember the last 10 levels I did in an zone that Blizzard didn’t finish. It had no quests or other content in it but it had these ogres I could just kill over and over to get xp. It sucked.

Upon hitting the end game, friends of mine tried to get me to run one dungeon with them. I flat out didn’t want to. The concept seemed annoying to me. But, I went along with it. Undead Stratholme. A medieval looking village where everything was undead.

We spent hours in there on one run. I quickly found out that the end game was about listening to a leader’s commands, doing damage to targets when it mattered and stopping when it mattered. Boring. And if you made one mistake, all five members of your team would die. Then have to walk all the way back to the fucking dungeon as a ghost.

I think if this had been the end game. I wouldn’t have played WoW much past that one summer.

Enter Battlegrounds

I think if you asked Blizzard today, they would have nothing but regret about this.

Back then, MMORPGs were kind of a swiss army knife. You made whatever game you wanted to (WoW is still like this, but more on that later). People built their little fiefdoms and either being a dictator or living in a dictatorship was the game.

Then, they fucking did it. They finally found a mode for people like me.

Battlegrounds. Fights of either 10v10, 15v15, or 40v40. Queue in as an individual or group.

You see, I think if you ask your average WoW player about Battlegrounds, they would probably say its something to do when to fill time when you are waiting for a dungeon or raid. Maybe their guild does a full premade and queues in to stomp on some people, which definitely happened all the time.

But no, for me, its something special. They invented something. Lets call it casual competitive.

As discussed at length, gaming was already turning a corner. Streaming hadn’t started yet, but it was coming. And things were getting more about….being the best.

The beauty of battlegrounds is that being the best is borderline irrelevant. It is where the average of your team is what counts. You can have people on your team who have never done PvP before, maybe hit max level and found battlegrounds as something they could do right hitting max level. And you can STILL have a good time.

It became the only thing I did in the game. Years passed. Still doing BGs. The holy sacrament.

The Bad Part: Random BGs Is Not Considered Endgame. Arena Is.

One of the most damnable words in videogames, especially in MMOs or MMO-lite things is endgame. What do you do when you are at max level and have ostensibly beaten whatever campaign they have for you?

There is a direct ramp for PvE. You do dungeons Normal -> Heroic -> Mythic, and then Mythic got 10 levels that get harder. You get your gear for each and move on. Raids have Normal -> Heroic -> Mythic as well.

But for PvP…the best they could come up with is the Arena. And it sucks.

The endgame Blizzard WANTS us to do

And I fucking hate it. 2 people trapped in a room. It is the complete opposite of why I play BGs.

So why play it? Cause the equipment you need to be able to do anything in BGs is tied to it. It is impossible to just do what you actually want to do. You HAVE to do what Blizzard wants. At least for the past few expansions… It didn’t used to be this way. There were expansions where you could just do BGs and get the same gear as everyone else. The glory days.

But no, it has been on an arch toward this for a few years now and the pain gets worse and worse. Now, I only step foot in the arena cause they make me. Cause they don’t see random BGs as valid.

No other game is like this. You can get everything you need to get playing random modes in CoD and Fortnite. You don’t need to play ranked. But oh no, that is definitely NOT good gameplay.

I am of the belief that the number listed above in the data, even THAT is overstated for arenas. Cause I am willing to bet of the small PvPers, most of us wouldn’t be in the arena if it wasn’t for gear.

The Present: Still Chasing Casual Competitive

And what I never realized till I saw this data is how little anyone cares for this as a concept. Especially today. Everything is targeted toward either what streamers can get people to watch or the people who want to be streamers want to play.

You can see this clearly in Battlegrounds themselves. No other game developer has ever fucking even attempted to emulate it. There is absolutely NOTHING out there like it. Sure you For Honor doing 4v4, but its way too small. If you suck at the game, it easily shows. You have Guild Wars 2 with 5v5 (along with everyone else doing 5v5) same thing there. The individual is way way too important. And their big mode (World v World – with like 300 people at most on it) is too big, too long and, not rewarding.

Regular BGs end in 15 min. Maximum. And you move on to the next one.

I would say this is where I am at in non-single player gaming. If I am going to play anything in an online capacity. I am chasing that casual competitive mode that blizzard still has.

Finding it has proved impossible. The closest I think of anything out there is Fortnite no-build mode. You don’t have to worry about the streamers cause they don’t play that. You don’t have to try to learn how to out build your opponent. Its big enough to where you can get a good game in and not have to worry about dying in the first 5 seconds.

But even still that doesn’t last.

This is the main reason I keep coming back to World of Warcraft after all these years. To play a mode that no one else plays and Blizzard could give a shit less about. Just because its the only thing I can play with friends that you can actually chill at.

Where do we even go from here?

Truthfully, I do not know.

WoW is on the slow decline. I think it’ll only die when it stops making cash flow, and that won’t be any time soon. But you can see the cracks. I can have a 3 hour session playing BGs and see the same opponents over and over. That never used to happen.

I wouldn’t even say where I go. The numbers tell the tale. No one is working on anything like Battlegrounds right now. From time to time I hear about something that could fit the bill, and I am just like, we will see…it probably wont make it a year past launch.

Recently, a friend(?) recommended a game to me that I had no interest in. Cause it was made for sweats. This person told me I could “continue to be on the wrong side of history.”

You know what, I have always been on the wrong side of history. The right side of history would have had me never leaving my redneck town, getting drunk on bud light (I suppose not that now), and I don’t know, doing domestic abuse or something.

I don’t do any of that. I fucking play shit for fun. I don’t want to be competitive. I want to be casual.

So, I’ll keep coming back to battlegrounds. Too bad. I like what I like. And I’ll be there till the wheels fall off.

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