There is, of course, no way to avoid the tarnishing of existing content when you announce New Things [TM]. It is especially galling however when you’ve set up something that looks on paper like the Biggest of Big Bads before effectively spoiling your own ending and making that massive moment… well, largely irrelevant. It happened with the Giant Fucking Sword of Doom and now, presumably, N’Zoth will vanish in a puff of irrelevant narrative.
Warcraft is beginning to suffer from a real case of Content Envy.
There’s no way to avoid it, of course: you have to announce new content somehow, and if the thirst remains for persistent narrative (as is the case in the Marvel Universe et al) it becomes really difficult not to devalue what you have whenever something new gets thrown into the mix. It means, like it or not, each version of the game gets jealous of the other. This is also a real problem with Retail and Classic, but that’s a conversation for another day.
I was staggered at the weekend to find the major topic of conversation in Trade whilst I did Dailies was nothing to do with current affairs, and everything to do with how the Quest that’s attached to the pre-order Shadowlands mount worked. This makes no sense to me at all: there’s so much I’ve not managed to complete, content that’s still current and requires work to finish, and yet here’s a bunch of people desperate to get a Transmog from a release that doesn’t even exist yet.
Is this really what gaming has been reduced to, a constant need to have done everything the moment it’s current, before complaining vociferously there’s nothing to do? Are there people really so shallow that their physical look now matters beyond any actual ability or progression? The reality, I suspect, is that the majority of players really don’t care. They just want something to do that isn’t grinding Artefact Power or whatever it is now they call your neck ability’s level thing.
I’m not playing that much attention to those details anymore.
With the use of Icecrown front and centre, I am inevitably reminded of the Northrend experience first time around, and how little I chose to know about what was coming. That made the entire experience so much more enjoyable as a result: genuine surprise at story lines, real immersion when it came to moments like the Wrathgate. It is incredibly difficult currently to avoid spoilers without blocking or muting people I like.
However, it is impossible to avoid the ending to 8.3 because the Lead Designer of the game stood on a stage and pretty much told me what it was. That’s the culture this game has now fostered. Narrative is purely an expedient between Expansions. Its relevance is largely incidental. I have to choose whether to accept this or no, and if I don’t, the game’s no more that a cut and paste duplicate of the one before…
… except this time, maybe, there could be an improvement. I’m seeing people looking at the class changes with unexpected optimism. Perhaps, as it has taken this long to get the mechanics properly addressed, this could be the last time an Expansion cliffhanger is sacrificed in order to affect a change of direction.
The only way to find out, of course, is hang about and play the damn game.