February’s a beautiful month in Warcraft if you’re all about the World Events, because apart from the monthly arrival of the Darkmoon Faire you’re treated to TWO chances to do something outside the normal daily grind. The Lunar Festival runs from the 1st until the 15th, and then Warcraft’s extended version of Valentine’s Day, Love is in the Air, takes over until the end of the month. Sadly however, despite some quite substantive changes to previous Warcraft festivals (including decorations in your Garrison I still actually have up from Winter Veil) it appears very little has changed in these two major events for 2016. It makes me sad, that Warcraft only seems to notionally grasp the concept of change, and that Warcraft’s holidays don’t evolve on a year by year basis. Then I remember that for some people, Pandaria is the expansion that they joined at. These festivals only serve to exacerbate Warcraft’s long-term issues with a game with eleven years of back story to contend with, and that there are so many potential points of entry to begin your journey in Azeroth. This is the biggest problem World Events now experience: because there’s such a diverse audience, and so many of them are effectively late to a party which Vanilla players have been attending since inception, how do you judge longevity? Where does one history end or another begin?
The Darkmoon Faire has at least addressed some of these issues with new racing games that are as difficult to master as they are fiendish in design. I’ve seen numerous complaints about how difficult they are, and that says to me that they’re probably pitched just about right. I’ve had a play, and they’re frustrating enough for me to leave well alone, and eventually I’ll get around to completing them all. Their rewards are the new go-to items for just about anything: Toys. You have a specific tab in your UI to store them, they come from mobs, quests and drops, and they’re the only reason someone like me will be participating in the Lunar Festival this year. I have all the achievements, but there’s Horde and Alliance Toys that I don’t. Fortunately I only need 25 Coins to buy one, and in a concession that is gratefully received in this camp once you buy the item for one faction, it is automatically rewarded to you for the other. There’s a lot of similarities in the New Year celebrations to its deliberate real world counterpart: honouring Elders scattered across Azeroth, red envelopes in the mail… but sadly, nothing in Draenor. We got baddies on that continent for both Hallow’s End and Winter Veil but suddenly? Draenor is overlooked, which seems almost deliberately jarring, almost as if the time and energy to invest in this wasn’t warranted as necessary on Blizzard’s part. I’m not here to de-construct the company’s development structure today, and there’s still a way to spend your currency that’s worthwhile: the now standard Heirloom Upgrades are available for spare coins should you have them after buying everything you need. Still, it feels really sad that a place we still live and work in has no deliberate connection to the Lunar Festival at all. The potential was certainly there, and appears to simply have been overlooked, one assumes because everyone is now working on Legion. Once upon a time some might have argued that that’s the way it should be but now, I’m not so sure. I’d like to see every seasonal event properly overhauled, and not just have lip service paid to the remembrance of some.
On that point, as yet there is no indication of what (if anything) may change with Love is In The Air. This is a two weeks that many people like me get quite grumpy about too, because it involves one task alone: trying to beat a Big Love Rocket out of the RNG. This mount’s rarer than the Magic Rooster CCG, and I’ve watched players lament both long and hard the fact that basically, it doesn’t seem to exist. I know it does, because I see the same people on my server riding it from that time when it was far easier to get, probably due to some mistake on Blizzard’s part, because it quite obviously does not exist any more.
Mostly, there’s more salt about this mount than currently being thrown by the people who didn’t get into the Overwatch Closed Beta. This was the event that was completely overhauled in 2010, and that is probably testament to what can be done if you consider why it is people want to take part in such diversions to begin with. It’s still quite fun to do even now, with quests for vanity pets and some lovely diversions out into the Old World for new players. However, the fact remains that it’s been basically the same for six years: last year a Toy was added with an Achievement attached, and the items that dropped from the Shadowfang Keep ‘event’ had an on use that offered 10 more points towards your total. However, that’s all, and against the major additions that 2015 brought, it’s just a bit of a damp squib.
However, yet again, I’m compelled to take part by a mount. Part of me really, really hopes that maybe they’ll up the drop rate, or we could have an arrangement as was the case with Winter Veil that you could swap tokens for a crate with a chance of the mount within. That at least held the notion of being fairer, and allowed people like me to work towards something with a more attainable goal. As to what happens? I won’t know until next week, but I doubt I’m going to be rewarded. Having said this of course should guarantee Blizzard surprising everybody, including me, so watch this space. If I am wrong I’ll be almost joyfully happy to come back here next week and admit it.
If you didn’t turn up in Azeroth at the beginning, you’ll need these two events completed to a certain standard in order to get your Meta Achievement which rewards a mount and that all important 310% speed boost. Of course, there’ll be no flying in Legion at launch, so working towards this now is probably a decent way of spending some time until that happens. There is still XP to be had from collecting the Lunar Coins and from the Love is in the Air questlines. You can pick up Vanity pets as well as achievement points, and although it is not yet clear what iLevel the necklaces will be from Shadowfang, this is always a decent bet for a lowly geared alt to pick up an update. Rings for Hallows End were iLevel 670, so I’d expect necks will be pitched around the same level, though they could be higher, but if upgradeable with Valor they’ll certainly be worth a look on my recently minted 100’s. If you want an indicator of how popular these events remain for people, make sure you count how many players you see at Elder spawn spots in the next few days or over the weekend. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the number of people who are out in the Old World to take part, and it serves as an important reminder that not everybody is on the same page as the codgers like me. I’m still missing both new achievements from last year’s Love is in the Air event too, mostly because I was too busy faffing around in Real Life to do them when they were first introduced. So, for me at least, there is still some work to do. I’ve also started an alt on the US servers and I think this next couple of weeks will be a perfect opportunity to try and rediscover some of the joy and excitement of gathering items simply using a ground mount and scheduled flight points. We can get very complacent as max level characters at just how easy all of this stuff is after a while, and going back to basics is a very good way to remind yourself of just how complicated this MMO can be.
Mostly, I have to put my heart on my sleeve, as I always do. I’m disappointed at what February has bought me in terms of World Events. After such high expectations and excellent deployment in Draenor, to come back to four weeks in Azeroth largely unchanged is a genuine let-down. I’d expected more from the company, and this could have been an opportunity to build on what were some really encouraging moves in the last part of 2015. I don’t know why everything hasn’t changed, and I’d love to hear something from the developers on this, but the fact remains you have to make the most of what you’re given. Bearing this in mind, I’ll be in Azeroth this week, knocking the changes do exist to these two festivals off my To Do List.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Event (In Game), World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday