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End of Expac Blues

April 18, 2012
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I’m sure it was obvious from the tone and content of my last post, but I haven’t been enjoying myself in WoW since 4.3 was released.  And while my feelings about the Dragon Soul raid have contributed to my general lack of excitement, I know that a lot of the reason I’ve backed away from WoW in the last month or so has been due to external factors – being busy with work and at home, spring/summer just naturally being a time when I often back away from WoW, and the deal that I made never to force myself to play when I’d rather be doing other things. 

The end of an expansion cycle is rough.  Content stays the same for months (or, in the case of WotLK, a year) while we only have the slightest idea of when the new expansion will finally give us something else to do.  To keep interested in the past, I’ve usually found myself either leveling alts, gearing alts, or turning to the PvP grind.  Now, I find myself at the end of Cataclysm with seven 85s who are all able to at least queue for the Hour of Twilight heroics, 2 level 70 twinks (one already at 70 and locked, the other a few short levels away), and no desire at all to use that tenth character slot at the moment.  I think it’s the first time in my WoW memory that I’ve really found myself with nothing to do and no interest in creating new diversions for myself.  I love working on alt gearing and PvPing, but even that has lost its charm for now.  I find myself only logging on once or twice a week for my regular 10-man raid, and even that has been something of a struggle lately.  We’re making decent progress through Dragon Soul heroics, but I can’t honestly say I’d even bother logging on for that were it not for how much I enjoy spending time with the other people in that raid group.

Instead, I’ve found myself trying out SWTOR in my spare time.  Make no mistake – I have no misconceptions about SWTOR having greener pastures than WoW, though I am having a blast playing around with new content and in a new environment.  SWTOR is a nice, comfy space for a WoW player who is used to the flow of WoW’s questing, class design, and UI.  It hasn’t learned all the things it – and all new MMOs – should from WoW (kill spell ranks, for the love of all that’s holy!), but I’m enjoying the time I’m spending there as I bide my time before Mists.  A large part of what I’m loving about SWTOR is that I’m playing alongside the boyfriend – something we haven’t found a lot of reason to do in WoW lately. 

With the age of Raid Finder and LFD upon us, and with the ease and speed that we can level new alts, we haven’t really needed to do things together in-game for a while now.  Outside of raiding and PvP, we pretty much went our own way once we logged in.  Because everything in SWTOR is so new to us, because we actually need to help each other through some of the quest areas, and because we genuinely are interested in seeing how each of our character’s storylines pans out, we haven’t spent much time playing alone.  It’s been so much fun to really discover the game together, and while the boyfriend is considerably less enamored with SWTOR than I am (the overall bugginess and quality of life issues are driving him crazy), we are both enjoying the way that this MMO really asks you to get inside the head of the character on your screen and think about who they are. 

So thanks to this new distraction, I find my beta invite for Mists still sitting unused in my inbox and the client still patiently waiting to be downloaded from Blizzard’s server.  There are a lot of things I’m excited to see in Mists – most notably the scenery in Pandaria – but I’m finding myself less than thrilled at the idea of logging on to the beta.  I was in the first round of beta invites for Cataclysm and had a lot of fun with it, but I have a hard time looking forward to the Mists beta knowing just how many players fill up those servers at any given time.  I can’t picture that being anything but frustrating, which isn’t how I’d like to spend the hours of the week I reserve for fun.

But my deeper concern than the size of the beta still rests with the overhaul we will see in Mists and this second expansion in a row that seems to reinvent the wheel.  I wouldn’t argue for a moment that talent trees didn’t desperately need to be revisited, as I’ve written about before.  But I also can’t shake the frustration that comes with knowing that – for better or worse – I’ll be re-learning the classes I play yet again.  I suppose that’s another part of the attraction of SWTOR for me at the moment:  while I may be a complete noob there, I am happily aware of my ignorance and I like that I’m slowly learning my way through my abilities and talents.  That feeling is decidedly different from being someone who is used to playing at a high level of comprehension in WoW and feeling like the rug is about to be ripped out from under me … again.

So while I remain optimistic about Pandaria and have told myself that I’ll download the beta client and give it a shot this weekend, I can’t quite shake those same fears of change I explored last year when the new expansion was announced.  I’m really worried that Mists is going to make or break my commitment to WoW, and for someone who has played continuously since BC and made a lot of very close friends along the way, that’s a pretty scary thought.  I already find myself thinking that, for the first time since I subbed, I might as well cancel my subscription for a little while – and that thought has absolutely never occurred to me before.

Are any of you feeling the “end of expac blues?”  What do you do to cure them?  Do you advocate taking time off, and if so, what are the chances that you’ll return if you do decide to unsubscribe for a while?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Narci permalink
    April 18, 2012 8:43 am

    I think you should at least consider taking some time off. What I did when I was really burned out and bored a few months ago was decide to sub month-to-month. That way, every month, I got to make the decision, “Is this worth $15?”. For me, I took a few short 3 day to 2 week vacations, and decided it was definitely worth coming back. But having that choice really freed me up mentally, when I tried to log in once a month out of habit and saw the “No play time” warning. It also broke me of the emotional obligation I felt to stay subbed at any cost, that fear that somehow not having a sub was a betrayal or a huge irrevocable life decision, that subbing was just a Thing That Was and I had no conscious control over it.

    I think this better describes some of my burn out with the last expac. As for what I’m doing, definitely PvPing and working on achievement points. I missed so much of endgame in Cata that a lot of this is pretty new and novel for me – I have so much to do on my main my alts are getting terribly neglected, in a hilarious end-of-expac turn of events.

    • April 19, 2012 8:37 am

      Thanks for the comment, Narci. I think it would be hard NOT to enjoy PvP with an arena team named Crickem Nugfomps.

      Oddly, I didn’t experience a lot of burnout at the end of Wrath, but my circumstances were a lot different. I had only 2 85s and was excited to level a few more classes, and I joined my current guild a month or two after ICC was released so I had lots of new people to get to know at that time.

      I agree with your thoughts on month-by-month subscription, and I think I’ve seen Cyn advocate something like that as well. I did sign up for the annual pass when it was first released (seemed like such a sure thing), so at this point I’m really making the decision of whether getting D3 for “free” and having access to the Mists beta is worth it to me. I don’t think I have an answer for that yet.

  2. Aralosseien permalink
    April 18, 2012 9:11 am

    Narci’s idea is a good one. There’s nothing bad about letting it lapse for a while if you need to, though I sympathise with your feelings because I’m still in “let it lapse?!” stage myself. Trying out another game (and with your boyfriend) is the way forward! I know what you mean about having something new to learn and how appealing that is, too.

    For me, this is my first serious expansion so I have a tonne of alts to level and gear, self-sufficiency to achieve, Loremaster to do, a Horde character to get to 85…and even then, some days none of those things appeal. So I made my big to-do list and I try and stick to the things on that so I have goals to aim for, but some days I’ll still log back off after ten minutes and read a book instead. I did subscribe to SWTOR for a month but without friends to play alongside it got a bit lonely. I’m crossing my fingers that my boyfriend wants to try out GW2 when it’s released though, unless pet battles have stolen all my waking hours in WoW!

    • April 19, 2012 8:39 am

      Yeah, I’m a sucker for making long lists of stuff I’d like to do as well – I just try to keep myself as honest as I can about what on the list I’ve included because I genuinely want to do it, and what is on there as a blatant time sink.

      I hope your GW2 plans work out – if not I’m sure you will be THE pet battle champion to beat. 🙂

  3. sparafucile permalink
    April 18, 2012 5:24 pm

    omg – I am feeling the exact same thing – AND getting all the flack about taking a month off from the game. That is all I am hearing from my friends … like a countdown. I really don’t feel like playing and when it feels like a HAVE TO instead of I CAN’T WAIT TO, then I am taking a break – oh, was told this morning it’s been 32 days. This blog is most definitely going on our guild website!

    • April 19, 2012 8:39 am

      Thanks for the comment and the link!

  4. April 19, 2012 1:34 am

    Hi Tzu, I think you’ll find a lot of people feeling that way! The thing is – sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, and other times, once they’ve broken away from the game and its addictiveness, it’s easier to stay away from the game. It depends what you want to do.

    I actually like relearning my talents and how to play my druid. Having gone from the days of Rank 4 HT then to crappy tree form, then awesome tree form, then WG spamming, then OMG what 3 minute cd on tranquility moments and tree form as a CD… to me it’s like nobody knows what’s going to happen and it gives me something to write about – CRAZY I know!

    I have never taken a break, but I think I can see myself having “holidays” from WoW. With other games, like SWTOR, or maybe Diablo. I don’t feel like having a break yet, but who knows? I like the sub month to month thing. That’s a good way to take a break!

    • April 19, 2012 8:45 am

      Hi Navi!

      For me, the less I play the easier it is to continue not to play. And yeah, a big concern for me is that I’m not sure stepping away temporarily would stay temporary. Maybe it’s a stupid comparison (ok, it is definitely a stupid comparison), but when I think of unsubbing and then resubbing to WoW, I think of the relationship advice I usually give friends who are considering getting back together with someone who they dated in the past. “If you had enough of a reason to break up, you probably don’t have enough reasons to get back together.” I wonder whether, if I ever do feel that I have enough reasons to unsubscribe from WoW, I’ll ever have enough of a desire to come back again. :-/

  5. eki permalink
    April 19, 2012 8:34 am

    I was pretty desperate in WoW a few months ago, just when SWTOR came out.

    However I was still enjoying one thing, as you are, and that was our 10 man every week. As I am the raidleader I did not want to “let my friends down” and unsub, so I told them I’ll be playing SWTOR but will still be around for the organization and the raiding thing.

    I leveled a couple of toons to their 20s in TOR when one of our tanks unsubbed to play TOR. So I for once came back to WoW to gear my warrior so I could offtank the raids if we were short, just for flexibilitys sake.

    That was when it got me hooked again and I all of a sudden was motivated to play that old game even outside of raids. I logged into TOR again, sure, but the excitement has faded now is almost completely gone.

    So my suggestion:
    Play TOR and just do your raiding for a while, maybe 2 months. Then just go back and try something different than raiding in WoW that you haven’t done for 2 months, maybe get one of those 70s twinks up and kind of geared.
    Maybe you regain your fun in WoW and can play on like me. That’s good!
    Maybe you don’t, then you know you really aren’t enjoying the game as you did before, and knowing this is good as well!

    • April 19, 2012 8:46 am

      Trying out a new role or class is a great way to breathe new life into a game, definitely. I don’t quite have the flexibility in our 10 man to do so, but in the past I have always found playing alts to be a good way to see WoW from another perspective and get excited about it again.

      Thanks for all the suggestions! 🙂

  6. April 19, 2012 7:42 pm

    I know all about “end of expansion blues” – I have quit every WoW expansion so far during the final patch, only to pre-order the following expansion and reactivate for its launch. Breaks are good, and I recommend them, but in my opinion I always find I have an easier time filling the void left with things that are completely different, whether it be a new style of game (maybe FPS, RTS or dungeon crawler?), new hobby (making youtube content? blogging about something else? making something?) or work (zzzz), as opposed to simply finding another MMO.

    This time around, I took my break earlier than normal (about 2 weeks in to 4.3) and have just come back about 6 weeks ago (basically when they started talking beta). While waiting around for an invite, I was getting bored quick. The things that I did to keep interested in the game included Loremaster, finding and farming transmog sets for all my toons, gearing and general planning for MoP, PvP, and just recently soloing old raids on my DK.

    I have to say, MoP has totally reinvigorated my attitude for WoW. I don’t know if you’ll like it personally, but I hope you find it as cool and enjoyable as I do.

  7. April 21, 2012 9:10 am

    I’m trying to write a comment without turning it into “all about me,” but it’s hard because you seem to be in the same place I was around the days of Rhyolith, and maybe the same place our mutual DK friend was when Nef was going down.

    Here’s the most important thing I would say to you: if you’re not happy, it’s okay to quit. Even if you’re writing a successful and respected WoW blog, it’s okay to quit. EVEN IF THE GAME HOLDS DEEP, MEANINGFUL SENTIMENTAL VALUE BECAUSE YOU MET THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE THERE–and I hope you know I mean that sincerely and am not condescending to you and Shin–IT’S OKAY TO QUIT.

    Tzufit, you just got a new job, right? When I quit, I just got a new house. Life upends our habits sometime (cf. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, a life-altering read) and we shouldn’t necessarily fight it. WoW will still be there if you need it later.

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