Important Stuff!

Monday, July 13, 2015

[WoW] Tanaan is close to perfect, but I can't seem to love it

Continuing a trend started with Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard has released Timeless Jungle Tanaan Isle Gul'dan's Welfare Loot Headquarters Tanaan Jungle as the final patch's "catch up and stuff to do" zone to (supposedly) finish off Warlords of Draenor. In continuation of the "zone to do shit in every patch" trend started with Pandaria's 5.2 "The Thunder King", the zone was designed to give players plenty of solo content to chew on, and engineered to draw the content out for as long as attention spans will hold. There's certainly a lot to do, and a lot of RNG involved, but the RNG is not the worst I've encountered and the zone reflects several iterations on the concept. In short, Tanaan is as close to perfect as Blizzard has yet come, and I "like" it, but I can't seem to love it.

Timeless Isle was a good idea on paper but was severely flawed in practice; Taanan's success can be attributed to it NOT making those mistakes. Most importantly, they've eliminated the "pure grind" reputation. Of the three Tanaan factions only one of them, the Saberstalkers, can be ground out, and there are several other ways to earn reputation. A pure, uncompromising grind is something we should have let die two expansions ago, and I am glad Blizzard figured that out.* Blizzard did a fantastic job of striking a balance by allowing people to quickly grind it out, and (but also) giving them the alternative of using other means to slowly but noticeably, raise reputation without grinding. Let us hope Blizzard sticks to this strategy so that we never have another Emperor Shaohao inflicted upon us again.

Never again.
Ironically, Saberstalkers had all the ingredients to be another Shaohao disaster; the mobs are found in only one area, they're mostly elite mobs, and it requires a lot of kills to progress. However, each individual mob is worth more reputation-per-time-invested, they're easier on average, and they seem to spawn fairly quickly when farmed. Plus, with the addition of the Warlords group finder, even the most socially awkward, shy, and introverted players (aka me) can easily find reputation grinding groups to ease the process along.

They also realized that sticking specific pets/mounts on rares could cause problems (like hours and hours of unpleasant camping) so now the eligible rares/pet-battles only drop boxes that have a chance to contain the various new mounts/pets. No more farming some random boss in hopes of getting their specific mount/pet; though toys ARE rare specific so some of that has remained, and I'm actually fine with toys being handled this way because they are more transient in nature. Plus, they all seem to have a guaranteed drop chance, so you only need to kill said rare once.

Terrorfist, a Hellbane rare that can drop a random mount box and/or reputation boost
Additionally, at least the rares of Tanaan are all free-for-all tagging, meaning anyone can get credit as long as they hit them once. That said, for reasons that come off as the ravings of a conspiracy theorist, Blizzard refuses to join the 21st century and eliminate tagging altogether. We hear fears about gold/loot inflation (made mostly moot anyways by Garrisons, and easily dealt with by modulating rewards) or people using it to farm experience (and would that REALLY be so bad?). God forbid people be able to get credit for any mob they attack, it might even cause...and brace yourself for this...people to help each other without being grouped. It might cause cross-faction cooperation in an MMO! Can't have that!

A common complaint about the Apexis crystal dailies was how disparate they were in completion times. Some of them could be done in 15-20 minutes, while others could take an hour or so. Blizzard clearly heard this, because the bonus areas in Tanaan are much better tuned. A few of them might need a tweak or two (Fel Forge, I'm looking at you), but for the most part it's a marked improvement and most bonus areas can be reliably completed in under 10 minutes.

All those highlighted object can be clicked for more bonus area progress; 
supplementing your orc genocide
The jungle is not without its flaws. For one, the place is actually fairly small, much like its Timeless Isle predecessor, and it masks this size through clever use of space. You don't really realize how small the zone is until you stop to think about it, or use Aviana's Feather (which is one of the handiest ways to get around). The true irony is that there is plenty of seemingly unused space in Tanaan; the swamp to the southwest of the hubs, or the entire dark portal area. Sure there are a few rares in those areas, but otherwise there's little reason to go.

Tanaan also has fewer pets and mounts to acquire than its predecessor, which means players will likely acquire all of them and lose interest in the area faster. That part I do miss; that feeling that every single rare could have something cool, and the fact that there were so many nooks and crannies that it felt like treasure was around every turn. Plus, the treasure is somewhat boring: some garrison resources, apexis crystals, and/or the quest crystals (if you have it) at best. But that's better than Worthless Timeless Coins.

That's the entirety of a bonus area; four small sections
Though ostensibly FILLED with rare mobs to kill, their tiny health pools continue to ensure that most rares die within about 10 seconds to spawning. Even the more powerful Hellbanes rares die within a minute or so, meaning you pretty much have to camp them if you want a specific rare. The quick death times also make the daily quest to collect crystals that drop from rares something of a pain if you aren't lucky.

All that said, Tanaan is actually a very well put-together zone reflecting careful consideration of their previous attempts, and yet it fails to really grab me by the collar and demand I play. That is, perhaps, because it is me that is changing, and my interests are moving away from WoW. Yet at the same time, it is so artificial, unchanging, and "perfect" that it somewhat lacks a soul.

*And if I hear "You don't HAVE to do it..." one more time. Of course I don't, the ENTIRE GAME is optional. That doesn't give it an excuse to be bland and boring.


  1. If you are having trouble finding rares or treasures for your daily 10 shards, here are two ways ive found effective:
    The arrakoa objective place has a decent amount of respawnable crystal "treasures" that sometimes contain 2-3 shards. If you are lucky it's rather fast.
    If you dont feel luckyyou can always just kill the 3 saberfang summons. They have 1,2 and 3 shards respectively. If you dont want to use your own fangs, there are often someone in the lfgtool who wants help with rumble in the jungle.

    On a more general note, i feel more or less thesame about tanaan. It grabbed me for a short while, but the last couple of days I have rapidly been loosing interest. I think your accessment of the soulthing isnt that far off... Or maybe im just getting old as well :-)

    1. I discovered the Arrakoa thing just yesterday! Very handy. Previously I had been trying my luck at the Harbor or Iron Front (mainly in the buildings).

      Have not done the saberfang champs much though, good to know they drop them.