Warning: This article contains spoilers for the World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor. It includes discussion of endgame questlines, raids, and the final cinematic. Read at your own risk.
True Detective references aside, that’s also the name of the ultimate “achievement” in Warlords of Draenor, the current World of Warcraft expansion. Obtained from killing the final boss of Hellfire Citadel, it sums up the truth of your time in Draenor. That no matter how much you want to change the past, history inevitably repeats itself, and nothing changes. In the context of the game, this is a good thing–evil is stopped from unleashing horrors on Azeroth and its associated planets and timelines once again. But on the whole, it’s a pretty bleak message.
Yet, it very well sums up my feelings watching the recent interview between Mamytwink, of Wowhead, and Cory Stockton, Lead Game Designer for World of Warcraft. You can watch the entire interview and read some of the highlights here, but the big takeaway that disappointed Azerothians this morning was that the current raid, Hellfire Citadel, is the last raid we’ll experience in Warlords of Draenor, effectively heralding the end of the expansion sometime soon.
Wait, didn’t I just preview the beta of this a few months ago? Well, so I did. And gave it high praise.
I don’t regret the good I spoke of this expansion, for there is an awful lot of good. But if Hellfire Citadel is the end of our Draenor adventures, then it marks Warlords of Draenor as a flop: a waste of time both in lore and gameplay.
The content itself is solid. As detailed in my previews, the level 90-100 questing experience and dungeons are delightfully detailed, well-written and designed, and highly engaging. The writing especially is on-point, as Warlords of Draenor introduces some of the most memorable characters in WoW. Reshad and the Arakkoa have a delightfully tragic story of destruction and redemption, and the Alliance at last receives the heroine it deserves in the form of Yrel, a young draenei who saves her people on countless occasions through nobility and self-sacrifice.
The dungeons and raids are fun, challenging, and more accessible than ever. The new toy box feature gives us plenty of engaging treasures to hunt down across Draenor and beyond. There’s new mounts to collect, new pets, achievements, and reputations to gain. The zones are beautiful. The garrisons are highly useful and functional for casual players and hardcore alike. So why is it not enough?
The bulk of playable content in Warlords of Draenor exists in that initial 90-100 grind. Yet, Level 100 is easily reached in a few days for those moving fast, a few weeks for slower players. Unless you’re a serious raider, after a month of play you’ve quickly exhausted all your options for unique experiences. After level cap, the amount of “content” shrinks considerably. Unless you’re a dedicated raider or PvP-er, there’s not a lot to do.
From a monetary standpoint, WoD players did not get what they paid for. Two expansions ago, Cataclysm, cost $39.99. It had two patches and six raids, plus a handful of new dungeons added later in the expansion. Last expansion, Mists of Pandaria, was the same price and included four patches and five raids. Warlords of Draenor cost ten dollars more, at $49.99, and has included one major content patch and one smaller update, and three raids. Its dungeons are obsolete within hours after reaching level cap. Then compare to even older expansions, such as Wrath of the Lich King, which had nine raids and a silly amount of dungeons.
Furthermore, the questing content is essentially over at level 100. There are a few weekly to further the story here and there, but generally by the time you’ve reached cap, you’ve seen all there is to see. This is compared to previous expansions. Mists of Pandaria had daily quests for reputation that rotated around so you were most likely to get at least one new one every day. Wrath had silly amounts of quests dotted across its huge zones, so you would have to search everywhere to experience everything.
A year passed between Mists of Pandaria’s final raid and WoD’s release. Now, players are staring down the barrel of a wait-time potentially just as long.
And the icing on the cake: WoD has only had two content patches; a paltry number compared to other expansions. What’s more, 6.1 can hardly be considered a content patch. It added some quality of life updates and some new toys to play with. Little more. 6.2, the most recent patch, added the Hellfire Citadel raid.
Now more accessible than ever, raiding has become the primary source of progression and content for most players. The raids themselves are great: more accessible for casual players, while simultaneously providing more of a challenge at the higher levels. But with only three raids this expansion, there’s simply not enough to keep players engaged. Furthermore, a year passed between Mists of Pandaria’s final raid and WoD’s release. Now, players are staring down the barrel of a wait-time potentially just as long. We don’t even know what the next expansion is.
Next: And then there's the story...