For some, the next expansion will be the release of Ulduar.
For vanilla WoW, those kind of expansions brought Black Wing Lair and AQ. In TBC they brought the Black Temple and then the Sun Well Plateau.
So, after Ulduar we’ll have one more mini-expansion with another big-time raid instance to look forward to. And maybe, most likely, it’ll be eyeball rending painful like Sun Well Plateau and AQ40 were in their day. Yay! That’ll appeal to those who like salt in their wounds, who insert rocks in their loafers on purpose, and for whom head banging is not an act of structure demolition but honest to goodness migraine pain. “BRING IT, OW!!, ON!” Oh, yeah, there’s some that like that much of a challenge. They can’t climb K2, or raft Moose River, prior commitments, you know?, so they’re eagerly looking forward to the Ulduar and the next instance following.
Me? I’m going for breadth this time around. Which means I’m not looking forward to Ulduar. I don’t care about it’s imminent release. My first exposure to raiding this go ’round was Heroic Naxx 25 and the experience, while fun, was nothing I’m Jonesing for now. Safety Dance! Plus Minus! Watch the Priest run after MC breaks. Tricks designed to keep 25 players busy. Raid design just seems to be about ramping up tricks. The tanks are bringing 30k health? Hit them for 45k and hope they know enough to have their HOTs up. Design it to require popping the flask at the exact moment the right number of hots hit, oh, and don’t forget you’ve got mobs coming from out of nowhere and targeting your squishies. That’s raid design.
See, Raiding and Heroism ala the Story Books, have nothing much in common. In your Story Books, you’ve got one Protagonist. Maybe a small group. That’s it. Everyone else are just NPCs in the story. They even coach the mid-game content where YOU are the hero, the long prophesied saviour, the one to right the wrong, rescue the princess. It’s not Heroic to bring 25 well geared players and pwn the face off Vashj. Bring 5 players. Bring one Death Knight. That’s Heroic.
Raiding’s also not bringing me anything the second half of any Expansion isn’t going to replace with quest reward greens and auction house blues. Oh, wait, there’s the Safety Dance! And Dragon Riding. (Except I already ride lots of dragons for various dailies.) Meh.
So I’m playing with the next Expansion in mind. And the game’s been kind of helpful in that regard. Consider all the ilevel 187 gear the crafters can make, for level 78. And it’s all BoE and available to everyone. So far I’ve made three full sets of Savage Saronite plate, for Msaker and our Death Knights. I need to make at least one more for my Paladin. I’ve crafted the epic shield for Msaker, Prot Warrior that he is, and a Titansteel Destroyer for my Paladin. I think our Death Knights will look better with the Ebon Blade factions two-handed sword. And Alliance side my Hunter will need to make 3 different sets of this ilevel 187 gear, two kinds of leather and one kind of mail. (And if my Rogue gets his act in gear, the Hunter will be making four full sets, much the same as my Warrior.)
And 78 will be all I need to be to move on out in the new Expansion. Whether it’s into the Maelstrom or the Emerald Dream. If it’s still about a year out, if not a year and a half, I’ve got PLENTY of time to get every character I have ready. And if I don’t have them ready in the wings, they’re all still bringing me amusement and fun.
And to those that say instances are well designed and expose the player to lots of new stuff, I’d agree. But we’ve got quests that are fun too, and giving us clever new stuff to experience and enjoy. I miss the dragon flight fight around Thorim’s throne, but I can still strip to the knickers and fly a dragon and slay it before it slays me, and do that once a day.
And the wife and I have yet to leave Grizzly Hills and head into Zul Drak with our Druids, 75 and 77 now. And while Storm did a few quests for the Argent Crusade in his reaching 80 to raid, most the rest of Ice Crown remains unadventured in.
I’ve got tons left to keep me busy without being 80, and the Expansion will only open up another grand playground for me and the wife. I don’t plan to, or need to, fast track to the end-game and burn out.
See you on the Kul Tiras docks.