You may have heard, at least at some point in your life as an MMO gamer, that you don’t ever really quit World of Warcraft but simply take a break from it. World of Warcraft has been around for a very long time and it has used up all that time to create one of the most (if not the most) rich end game experiences in MMO history. With more than a decade of content under its belt and continuously churning out new scenarios in a timely manner, one could never go wrong investing your time in trying to create a career in PvE, PvP, or both. People frequently come back every day, clamoring for a renewed taste and welcoming the old memories.
Raiding in World of Warcraft
Recent years in World of Warcraft have made it evident that the true meat of the end game is found in its raiding. While WoW may not have originally created the concept of raiding, it is the one that has popularized and polished it to a shining gem that is the envy of many other MMO developers.
With each new raid, Blizzard continuously ups the ante with more and more interesting encounters through unique mechanics and balanced tuning. This makes for a challenging, yet fair, experience. Raids can range from something very short to a long and epic instance where teamwork reigns supreme.
In the past, WoW’s raiding scene was one of the most hardcore and faithful communities that existed even though the activity itself was so extremely time consuming due to overtuning, a raid size of 40, and had a horridly unforgiving loot distribution method. These days, however, since the advent of the Looking-for-Raid (LFR) via Dragon Soul in Cataclysm, it has continuously become easier to get into the what most consider the “real” game.
LFR functions sort of like a Dungeon Finder (instance matching) but for 25 man raids. LFR raids are the easiest form of the actual instances that serve as a sort of training grounds for newbies to get acquainted with the encounters before they dive into the real thing, as well as obtain entry level gear. It’s not so popular for veterans who long for the older days of a “hardcore” Warcraft, but this certainly softens the barrier-for-entry into real raiding.
Flexible raiding is another new feature that came along only during the final raid tier of Mists of Pandaria that further eases raiding. Even though WoW has already forgone the 40 man layout, recruiting players for raids can be such a chore, so flexible raiding makes the first two difficulties (Normal and Heroic) doable with any raid size past 10 people. Players can come and go as they please and the raid itself will either dumb down or get harder, always adjusting to how many people are currently present.
With 4 difficulties, including LFR, players can expect the challenge to ramp up to keep them engaged and interested while partaking in their gear progression. Raiding is definitely the crowning glory of the World of Warcraft.
This is one of the more disappointing aspects of World of Warcraft’s end game, not because they’re boring, but because they appear more as a gap-filler than anything else. Five-person dungeons, though they were claimed by older veterans as important in the past expansions, have become little more than an afterthought in these days. The only real time they’re ever important is during the early days of an early expansion or leveling. They can easily be skipped by obtaining crafted gear or easily acquirable PvP gear to bump up one’s item level in order to participate immediately in entry-level raiding.
However, with the advent of Mythic dungeons (higher difficulty), some argue that dungeons have become significant again due to becoming an alternative gearing path with obtainable items comparable to those from raids. Some think otherwise, but I believe it to be something positive for end game. For veteran players, this higher difficulty isn’t at all a challenge, but for decently geared newbies, it will certainly be one.
Unfortunately, for all the praise and accolades World of Warcraft receives for its PvE aspect, it falls quite short in the PvP department. Though it once had amazing PvP communities backed by fantastic support from Blizzard, today’s PvP isn’t as great. Constantly plagued with balancing issues with each major patch (just ask any Mists of Pandaria PvP veteran about the “World of Warrior” era), iffy decisions to revitalize PvP (Ashran), and bots that used to run rampant in instanced battlegrounds, PvP has certainly fallen from grace.
While there are very vocal folks going on and on about how much of a joke WoW’s PvP is, it is most definitely far from unplayable. It’s still a fun and riveting experience with arena ladders for different team sizes with rare and unique seasonal rewards that every PvP addict could always go for. However, with eleven total classes, and not to mention the several builds for each, it can be daunting to jump in and learn everything one has to learn in order to stay competitive.
Grinding gear in PvP is relatively simple and straightforward. Participating in current PvP events and PvP instances nets players some commendations to exchange for gear and loot boxes that have a chance to contain powerful PvP gear. In fact, it’s so easy that one wouldn’t ever have any troubles getting into competitive gear shape. Unfortunately, this sort of works against it due to many players losing interest in competitive play once they get their best-in-slot items and not even bothering to continue on ranked matches. On the plus side, it assures that those with decent PvP rating are almost always serious players, improving one’s chances in fighting challenging opponents.
Truth be told, raiding and ranked PvP aren’t all there is to do in World of Warcraft’s end game. There are actually other things to do. What a shock!
First of all, WoW’s massive and sprawling world is more than enough to sate the exploration buff. With more zones than I could care to count, players will spend literally hundreds of hours exploring every nook and cranny, unlocking special little secrets that range from obscure NPCs selling unique items like mounts and such, to hunting down unique monsters that drop rare loot.
And with each zone, there are countless quests that one will have most likely missed during their leveling period and they, too, have nifty little things that players can unlock, as well as have a grand time due to each one having a story of their own. This should be able to sate the lore buff with countless hours of fantastic story, witty dialogue, and crazy parodies.
Achievements are another aspect in the game that players can go nuts over, especially for the completionists. Many of these accomplishments offer rewards such as mounts and titles from different sources such as reputation grinds and other not-so-core content of WoW like meta-achievements. These achievements also serve as proof of sorts attributable to the skill of a player like World Firsts, killing current end game bosses, PvP rating achievements, and individual skill achievements such as Proving Grounds and Brawler’s Guild clears. These sorts of undertakings can totally influence the way other players perceive one another and the company that they keep and count more than just mere swagger to those that hold them in high regard.
Transmogrification is another thing that can keep players occupied at the end game. After all, when everything is said and done, what else truly lasts as long as the interest for avatar vanity? This vanity system makes use of obtained gear in one’s bank or inventory and can apply them to currently equipped items to obtain their looks. This can be great fun for many players and gives them a reason to rummage through older content looking for other pieces of gear that they can mix and match to create their perfect outfit.
Garrisons, while they’re not exclusive to end game, are extremely essential to one’s experience the most recent expansion of Warlords of Draenor. Akin to player housing, these private settlements are a player’s personal source of end game progression that complement the primary paths of raiding and straight up PvP through the abundant resources obtainable and supplementary crafting perks. Complete with its own achievements and cool little secrets, this element will definitely eat up a lot of any player’s time.
Did I also mention you can pay for your subscription with in-game gold? Yeah, that’s a thing to grind for at end game.
A Solid End
Love it or hate it, it can’t be denied that World of Warcraft has some of the best end game experiences that have kept many MMO gamers engaged for years. Replete with meaty and juicy amounts of content, one wouldn’t ever run out of things to do in the game and even if they weren’t interested in the miscellaneous activities, raiding and arenas are filling enough for even the most committed players, keeping them busy for months on end. It would be impractical to list everything WoW has to offer, but there is just so much to do here that player will most likely quit before they even see but a decent fraction of the end game content. If you’re looking for a great, solid, and polished game to sink your teeth in, then look no further than World of Warcraft.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, End Game, MMORPG, World of Warcraft