Apparently I missed the week old memo (posted November 17th) that Emblems of Triumph will be replacing Emblems of Conquest in 3.3, releasing in 2 weeks time.
Now, technically, this is no different to what Blizzard did when they replaced Emblems of Heroism with Emblems of Conquest, a change which was well received by the general populace. I have no doubt that this change will again be well received by the majority – at least initially. However, this time around as one of those relatively well-geared raiders who worked for their Triumph emblems, the fact that 14 days from now all those weeks of wiping for hours on Faction Champions 25 will become moot allows me to see this issue from the raiders point of view, for once. And this time around, I am not exactly too approving.
Personally I think it’s too soon. I’m generally in approval of raising the floor every now and then, but there’s a problem right here and now in that heroic instances – tweaked for fresh 80’s in blues – will now grant the ability to gear up in Tier 9. The problem is twofold – most people are already well geared up and blitz through heroics in minutes with no cc or, increasingly, even healing needed. Without increasing the difficulty of Heroics at least somewhat proportionately or offering a more challenging mode which drops Triumph emblems, the rate at which emblems are going to be acquired is going to accelerate. Combine that with Cross Realm LFG and the removal of the limitation of only being able to run so many Heroics in one day, means that dedicating an inordinate amount of time for a few consecutive days will allow people to gear up in full Tier 9 in a matter of days. It’s too much, too soon.
Now, take into context the forced gating of Icecrown Citadel, and we have the following situation potentially playing out: a week after patchday people have rapidly geared up. They defeat the first boss or two and walk into a false wall, instead of a difficulty based one. So on the one hand Blizzard is handing out free loot, and on the other hand they’re building brick walls that no amount of the phattest of loot will be able to progress beyond.
Contrast that with past idealogy of increasingly difficult content that you had to painstakingly farm loot in order to be able to beat. It’s easy to see why the hardcore are leaving. A cute mount and some achievements from hard modes are no longer enough to keep them around. WoW has always been about having better gear than thy neighbour, but new-WoW is looking increasingly uniformist by the day.
As a self-admitted casual raider, I supported this change of idealogy in the past, but now I’m approaching the point where, even as a ultra-casual raider, I’m overgearing too quickly and looking at hitting firewalls that no amount of gearing or grinding can accomplish. One has to beg the question, how noob friendly is the game when even a complete casual such as myself is beginning to complain about the same issue that those hardcore elitists have been for just about a year now?
I believe this approach is rapidly becoming the wrong one, and bodes ill for the future. There is a line which should not be crossed, a threshold which should be carefully examined. It increasingly looks like Blizzard have adopted the attitude of free loots for all, without even trying to pretend that there be a large gear disparity between the noobs and the ‘core. Welfare epix can be a great motivator for casual gamers, but older and wiser people have told me that Balance is key, and Everything in Moderation. There is nothing moderate about raising the floor to being 2 inches from the ceiling. That doesn’t give anyone much room to stand.