2 Gamers Review one Game

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Follow-up Review - World of Warcraft - Post 60th Level

World of Warcraft – Follow-up Review – PC – Pickypants

It has been a while since I last looked critically upon World of Warcraft. I have reached the all elusive level 60, ran several 5-man endgame instances (BRD, Strath, Scholo, LBRS, UBRS, DM-Trib) spent a lot of time in Alterac Valley, got my epic mount, and started my tier .5 armor quests.

I have not run the instances enough to get a full set of my level 60 gear (Valor). I have not attempted a 20 or 40 man raid instance, and I have not gotten any "fat purple loot."

The last time I reviewed WoW I was floored by it. The level progression seemed easier, the casual gamer (or as I like to call it, the "Gamer with a job") could easily log in for an hour or two, grind some mobs, and get some good sellable lewts. Your time felt like it was well spent. No matter what timeframe you had, or what class you were, you could see some progression happening.

I am sure you know where I am going with this. We've been told over and over about level 60 in WoW. How it's a new "beginning." "Life begins at 60." I have heard that since level 10 in barrens chat (/shudder). And you know what? It's true. But not in the way that makes me happy.

Levels 1-59 are like college during spring break. You have so many options for having a good time. You can quest, seeing new places, you can hang around the AH looking for deals, you can grind, or you can just say "Screw it, I am going to gank some allies." There's a wonderful air of freedom about, and you accomplish your tasks AND have a good time to boot.

Level 60 is the cold hard reality of after college life. The best guilds totally ignore you, snickering at your pathetic resume. You realize quickly that to be considered a tiny step up from pathetic, you need to outfit yourself in your first blue set. Your class armor. Class armor drops in the 5 man instances; Scholomance, Strathome, and the Upper and Lower parts of Black Rock Spire. The first few times you run these instances, you realize two things, they are exciting, and they are hard as a motherfucker.

After one or two runs of these deep, interesting dungeons, you start to wonder how long it will take to get your "Oh so important" quest pieces. You check
Helm of Valor drops off of Darkmaster Gandling 6.1% of the time.

You might see 6.1% and think to yourself, "Well that seems quite low, but I am sure I will get it eventually." This is really bad thinking. You see, what fails to mention, is Darkmaster Gandling is actually 2-3 hours into Scholomance (with a PuG).

Back when you could clear Shadowfang Keep for loot for your lowbie friends, you could get the run time down to as little as 20 mins. When you have such a small run time, you can tackle it several times in an hour, and still have time to check the AH before logging off for the night. If Helm of Valor dropped off of Magius in SFK, you would be able to get it (on average) after 5 hours of play time.

As it is in the game currently, (especially after the patch stopped 10 man Scholo raids) it would take a person, (on average) 30-45 hours depending on your group and skill.

Now I know what the haters would say at this point. "The Helm has a low drop rate because its one of the hardest set pieces to get," "If you are good enough, you can farm Gandling in 45 mins," "WTF noob, stop complaining." Etc. etc. etc.

Haters (or as you call them, "Raiders") will take any measure to justify the exorbitant amount of time they have spent to get their characters geared up to the point that they are now. Since they have already pissed away hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours on their characters, they clearly have no room to argue about what is worth your time as a gamer.
This bears repeating. Please reread this paragraph now.

Getting back on track. Other than the time commitment, the biggest problem with end game progression is it's entirely loot based. People fail to remember how much better their character got with a single level. Everquest and Everquest 2 combat this by having AA or Alternate Advancement points. They basically are like an extension of xp whereby you get points to spend to make your character better. In WoW terms, it would be like gaining additional talent points to spend. Once you hit 60 in WoW, people need gear to make them better. The problem with that is, the gear isn't really that good.

Oh sure, that fat purple gear looks awesome, STR +1,000 gloves are great. But that gear is not what we are talking about. That gear takes such a monumentous commitment, I won't even comment on it. I am talking about what Blizzard says is "casual epics."

My neck slot is currently "Woven Ivy Necklace":
+6 STR
+10 STA

Not bad eh? I got it from a quest in the hinterlands. It took me an hour to complete. I also got exp while doing it, since I wasn't level 60.

Now if I want to play alone and get an epic (purple) neck slot I have a few options.
Easiest is the Amulet of the Darkmoon (+10 STR, +19 AGIL, +10 STA)
This is a reward for the seasonal world event "The Darkmoon Faire."
There are several items you turn in to get tickets at the fair. You need 1200 tickets to get this necklace.

The (arguably) easiest way is to amass 360 Thorium Widgets to turn in.
It takes 3 Thorium Bars and 1 runecloth to make a Widget.
3 bars x 360 widgets = 1080 Thorium Bars 1 Runecloth x 360 widgets = 360 Runecloth 1080 Thorium Bars / 20 per stack = 54 stacks of thorium. 360 Runecloth / 20 per stack = 18 stacks of runecloth.

This means if you need engineering to combine these reagents into widgets.

If you have all the necessary materials, assuming a few trips to the bank it would take you 10 hours of in game time to combine them all. 6 seconds per widget, plus trips to the bank. (add it up).

That's assuming you've bankrolled enough to purchase the reagents, which will differ from server to server, and what time you buy them; but I don't need to tell you that buying 54 stacks of Thorium without getting gouged a few times takes an insane amount of time. Also, if you don't have engineering, how likely do you think it is that someone else will combine materials for you for 10 hours?

Assuming you have made ALL these widgets and turn them in for your necklace, you have yourself a nice purple necklace.

Compared to "Woven Ivy Necklace," however "Amulet of the Darkmoon" nets you a total of 10 AGIL and 4 STR. That's it. Gratz.

Once you wrap your brain around what a time and money sink getting "end game items" is, you start to wonder if you should just stop gathering loot altogether.

For the unconvinced, lets run another example.

A warrior is only as good as his/her weapon. I happen to be a 2h wielding warrior with heavy points in the arms tree for huge crit damage.

My current Wep is "Crystal Spiked Maul."
This fatty is

168-252 Damage
+16 STR
Critical Hit chance +2%

It does me pretty well. I bought it from the Auction House for 300 gold. To be totally crappy, buying gold online, this will cost you a real world time of 15 or so minutes, and about $8.00. Or you could just save up your in game gold.

The obvious purple choice for a similar character build would be The Unstoppable Force.
This badass is
175-292 damage
+19 STR
+15 STA
+2% Crit
Chance on hit: Stun target for 1 second.

Pretty neato!

How do you get this 2h ass-smasher? Well it’s considered "casual" content, so all you have to do is get exalted in Alterac Valley so you can buy it for 140gp.

Granted, Alterac Valley is a million times more fun than dying in an instance, but how long till the fun turns to the grind?

People have varying opinions about how long it takes to grind exalted rep in AV, especially after patch 1.10 made it harder to leech rep. I have heard everything from a few months to two weeks.

One thing is for certain, it takes a really long time.

Doing a quick search for leveling services online, I found that going from Neutral to Exalted reputation was on average 45% more expensive than leveling from 1-60.

While hardly proof, this shows that companies whose job it is to take money to grind have deemed it more of a time sink than leveling from 1-60. That totally blows my mind.

So to get "The Unstoppable Force" imagine spending more time than you did leveling from 1-60 and you get a good idea of how much time the end game content takes to achieve.

What do you get for that time spent? Over Crystal Spiked Maul, you net:
+3 STR
+15 STA
1 second stun proc
7-40 additional damage per swing

I don't know how much you value your time, but other than the stun proc (which warriors can train in arms btw) you are looking at 7-40 more damage per swing. My warrior has 5,000 hp. Time sink FTW.

I know you get more items to choose from when you hit exalted with AV, that does not, however justify the insane amount of time needed to get there.

Lets just say, for argument's sake, that instead of making widgets and grinding in a 40-man zergfest for months that I log in, do some world PvP, chat with friends, then maybe log out. Play some other games (console gamers anyone?). Perhaps spend a little time with my family. Go on a little vacation. Have sex. Masturbate. Take my dog for more walks. Watch all the LOTR bonus features I've never watched. Read a graphic novel. Save my money (which I will have gotten by working for a living) to buy something nice.

After all of this, I would log back in, and if I saw an ally level 60 warrior with identical gear, but The Unstoppable Force and Darkmoon Amulet instead of my Crystal Spiked Maul and Woven Ivy Necklace. Lets say we 1 on 1 PvP with each other.

As we have already established, the ally in question has on me:
15 STA
7-40 damage per hit
1 second stun proc

This translates into real game terms as:
+20 armor (Agil)
+ 0.5% crit (Agil)+ 14 AP (or 0.5 dps) (STR)
+150 hp (STA)
and the 7-40 extra damage

Assuming the ally beats me in PvP (54.25%) he will finish me off 3.45 seconds faster than I, him.

3.45 seconds. That's what he's got on me.

All the fancy graphics and purple text cannot hide the fact that level 60's by and large are not that different from each other.

One healing pot or priest buff, and victory would be mine.

Of course it can be argued that a fully clad tier 2 warrior would wipe the floor with me regardless of pots and buffs. This is true. The amount of time required to gather that many drops, however, is so vast, it is doubtful that I will ever cross swords (maces) with such a warrior. Which begs the question, If you aren't going to engage in PvP with the opposite faction, why spend so much time getting gear for it?

Why indeed.

World of Warcraft is a phenomenal game. It's fun to play and lose yourself in for a while. But when the time spent gathering items to make your character more fun far outweigh the fun you will have in the first place, it becomes time to re-evaluate why you play the game.

After running scholomance for the 10th time, it’s not interesting anymore. You gloss over the lore, don't even look at the graphic details in the dungeon. You try to figure out how best to get to a boss for loot without fighting many battles in between. In short, it has become a job.

I have a job. It's not fun. Why the hell would I want to log into a second job? And pay for it to boot!

In my opinion, asking yourself what you want out of the game and following through with it is the only way to play post 60. If you want to raid an enemy town, DO IT! If you want to just work on fishing and enchanting, DO IT! Do the things that are on your schedule and don't rely on shoddy PuGs or controlling guilds.

You have nothing to prove to the cyber community. If you stay true to what you want, and don't over commit your WoW time, you can still have fun, you just won't look as pretty.

WoW post 60 gets a very low score from me. I understand the dilemma Blizzard has trying to bring solo-able content to a game that seems to be geared toward the end game raider. Quite frankly, I don't know what I would do in their position. That still doesn't change the fact, however, that the end game is tedious, boring, and time consuming.

Better content FTW.
gg Blizz ß obligatory

*All math calculated using the World of Warmath DPS Calculation Tool. Download a copy at

PickyPants 4/10/2006

World of Warcraft – Follow-up Review – PC – Harshly_von_Smokenstein

Well, Picky and I have been tossing our hands in the
air recently as to a review. We have been investing a
lot of time into handhelds and that seemed overplayed.

We decided on slamming back at Blizzard
Entertainment's World of Warcraft from the perspective
of the end game. Hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps.

Without repeating my previous points in the initial
review, I'll just state that I really enjoyed the
game. It provided something that most of the MMO's
out there didn't...casual, soloable content.

What I wasn't prepared for was the post-60 train wreck
this type of gameplay produces. I look back on my
experience with Everquest 2 or Dark Age of Camelot
and I realize...they made shit hard for a reason.

It wasn't to make sure everyone invested all of their time just to
get one stinking level. It was to help along people in themind
set necessary for what is deemed affectionately as
the "gear grind" when you have topped the level cap.

In those other games I mentioned, you are so
accustomed to pick up group mechanics and spawn
camping for items that doing so at 60 for the really
good stuff isn't that much of a difference. Sure, it
probably takes longer, but that has been the name of
the game when advancing, level wise.

World of Warcraft uses its siren song to lull its
players into a false sense of security. "Come play,
Casual Gamer..." these voices whisper seductively,
"Come play, its easy. Look how easy it is. You don't
even have to group with strangers...You can do
it...all...on...your own.". And I didn't have any
proverbial wax to coat my ears with. I was sucked in.

Then, with the type of surprisingly nauseating force
of a dodgeball to the groin, the level 60 gear grind
hits you in the face. Casual solo gameplay, chatting
it up with guildmates about what to look for next
level as far as a shield goes, etc...melts away. I
believe the killing blow is when your guild becomes,
or if you join, an END GAME RAIDING GUILD. When you
read that, I want you to imagine each letter slamming
into place with deep foreboding vault sounds.

Got a job? Great! Your guild will ignore you and
eventually shun you because you "aren't showing the
dedication required to make this guild successful.".

Got a girl or boyfriend who likes to actually spend
time with you? Fantastic! Your opinion on good
farming areas will mean nothing unless you have a set
of tier 2 epics to back it up!

What, for 59/60 of the levels is a fantastic damn game
for the casual gamer, becomes virtual hell. I have
barely logged in more than perhaps 3 hours this month
now that my character is 60. Sure, I had a 60
mage...but I rerolled a Hunter. Sure, I could level
up my rogue...but I'd just end up in the same place.

Shaking my fist at the total stupidity displayed by
the average Pick up Group (PuG) member or playing
something else.Obviously, the individual who invests the most time
raiding end game material (Blackwing Lair, 40 Man-AQ)
will have the best gear. Gear with such superior
stats that they easily vanquish enemies 1 on 1 or help
turn the tide of a larger conflict. Great. I have no
qualms with that. I understand that even though that
dwarven hunter has way better gear than me...I'm not
by myself. There are some orc warriors or tauren
druids on my side with extremely good gear too.

What I don't like is the mentality that "longer time
spent grinding raids for epics" equates to "better
gamer". Unfortunately this is the prevailing
mentality of most any well geared gamer out there in
World of Warcraft. If we were to adopt this type of
logic in real one would complain about the
elderly driving. They have spent decades longer
driving vehicles. Therefore they are better at

But they aren't! Most of the time. Always an
exception to the rule, but generally speaking I've
found that quality always over-rules quantity.

The crux of the problem is that in World of Warcraft,
and most every other MMO available, quantity provides
quality.This all brings me to the excited re-emergence into
the WoW post 60 gaming experience I underwent at the
news that patch 1.10 was providing upgrades to the
tier 0 sets, half of which are epic.

I've gotten three of the pieces and I'm already stuck.

Basically, I have to run Undead Side Strat under 45
minutes. All of my research has lead me to the fact
that the only way to succeed is basically have at
least 4 of the 5 people geared out in epics.

Huh. The thought of a pick up group achieving this is
laughable. Not impossible, but its basically like
putting a .5 percent drop chance on an item and then
hoping you get it the first time. Perhaps, but not

Developement claimed they finished it with green gear.
But this is the damned DEVELOPMENT team. If anyone
knows their asses from a hole in the ground concerning
the game, I should hope it’s the people shaping it.

This argument holds no water for me.

Casually, I have lead myself to the second tine in
this tuning fork of disaster. The dependance on the
PuG a casual gamer must adopt. Perhaps my own
experience is extremely different than other folks,
but at 60 it is very difficult to find a guild willing
to devote a lot of its time to the 5-10 man raids.

With the simplicity of hitting 60 inherent to the
game, everyone is anxious to start farming Onyxia
rather than running LBRS for a chance at the hunter
shoulders. Once in a while someone might get a guild
group going, but it is definitely not a nightly
occurance for me.

Great, now I'm forced to run an instance with people
who didn't have to group with anyone for 59 levels.
Fantastic. Now I have to toss out the inherent rules
of rolling on items that Blizzard created because of a
fear of ninja looters. Now I have to devote 2-3 hours
of my time to kill a boss that isn't guaranteed to
drop anything my character can use. Nope, I'm not
even guaranteed that the group won't fall apart 2
pulls from said boss because the healer went AFK or
some other random event.

PuG's have destroyed my interest in World of Warcraft.
Its very interesting though when I compare the late
game grinding of EQ2 to WoW. At least in the previous
game people knew how to operate in a group dungeon
excursion. They've been doing it since level 10! I
knew that the only reason I'd wipe post level 45 in
EQ2 was because someone went link dead, someone was
surprisingly stupid (not a fear though, just would
happen from time to time), or something unexpected
happens such as unpredictable aggro range on pull or
doing a portion of an instance for the first time.
I never worried if the tank would know how to manage
aggro. I never worried about high DPS classes going
overboard and pulling aggro off the tank. I never
worried about a healer blowing all their mana on
damage instead of conserving it for healing.

In the World of Bore-craft...I do. Did.

That is all I really have to say at this time. My
shift at work is over and I have some Battle for
Middle Earth 2 to look forward to.

harshly_von_smokenstein 4/17/06


  • Trackback: I liked this piece so much, I linked to this article here.

    By Blogger Tobold, at 6:32 AM  

  • You DO NOT need people tiered up for the 45 baron run. Our guild with a smattering of ZG gear does it all the time. Just look up a good guide and make sure your path is right. Also, do it with the same group several times, dont keep switching out members. If you cant find 4 freinds in the game to help, well then yeah it sucks to be you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:41 PM  

  • I finally read this! And while I don't understand all of it...I think it was really well written...I can also attest that Picky Pants has spent a lot less time playing...I think that speaks volumes for life after level 60.

    By Blogger Julie, at 6:33 PM  

  • Anonymous: I realize that the longer a challenge is presented to the gaming public, the easier it is to succeed. The issue at the time I wrote this was the lack of guides available. I was literally on this step within 24 hours of patch release. That is how excited I was for the opportunity to upgrade gear. After pugging it up for a week without success, getting frustrated, and a veritable shit storm of RL obligations, I fell out of WoW. It will be interesting to get back into though once the quest line is established.

    By Anonymous Harsh, at 3:41 AM  

  • What's a guy gotta do to get a new game reviewed around here?

    How about you guys do a review of the new Team Fortress 2 trailer?
    hosted here @ youtube


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:51 PM  

  • I too feel your pain on life post 60. I was lucky enough to have several RL friends that helped me get my Priest into a decent raid guild while I was unemployed for 3 months. Now that I have a job I'm pretty much a pariah in my guild because I can't devote 5-6 hours every night to pressing Flash Heal every 1.5 seconds in the hopes that the senior members won't hog all the MC and AQ40 loot.

    They say that the expansion dungeons will all be capped at 10 with a few 5 member ones tossed in as well. While that ignites a small spark of hope for the casual gamer, I fear that my non-epic-geared character will be picking at table scraps once again at 70.

    By Anonymous Zeroes, at 11:58 AM  

  • All I can say is holy crap what a couple of whiney bitches you two game reviewers are. It sounds to me you both suck at computer games and video games in general.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:36 PM  

  • fjklsdfjksla;.

    Sounds to me like you don't have one piece of evidence to back your most profound statement "anonymous".

    But then again, those fat fuckface kids in elementary school resorted to the same tactic. Make fun of someone when you don't have any real reason to disagree.

    But, you are entitled to your opinion, and thanks for sharing it.

    Here is my opinion, in the spirit of your post.

    Lose some weight fatty, your keyboard will thank you when it doesn't have to bear the weight of your hamsized fists pounding away mercilessly at the backspace key because you accidently mashed two keys at once for the forth time in a row.

    By Anonymous Harshly, at 9:04 PM  

  • Look at it this way. You really shouldn't get those good items. Pounding hours and hours and hours into the game just bad for you, especially since you can't level and all the 12 year olds laugh at you if you don't have all the best items. Um... and it's bad for your health.

    By the way Anonymous, lacking skill in video games is a good thing, usually meaning he has a job, social abilities, and something called a "life." You might want to look up that in Wikipedia.

    I personally played Anarchy Online for awhile. Shitty graphics, but a fun large game.

    Anyhow, good review, but it was way too long for my A.D.D attention span.

    By Anonymous Morgan, at 6:18 AM  

  • Sorry about the double post...

    By Anonymous Morgan, at 6:19 AM  

  • How about join a guild? Also a small one.You got no problem at all entering in that group and you can easily and funny do any 5-10 man istance and, when you're skilled enought and have enought people you can also do major istance (ZG-MC, ecc....).
    Playin alone is impossible and nonsense in this game....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:04 AM  

  • Good post. If you want, you can check out my site for World of Warcraft Cheats, Dupes, Exploits and Hacks
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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:37 PM  

  • Nice blog, congratulations Can you come and visit my blog?

    By Blogger admin, at 10:38 AM  

  • I to feel your pain on life post 60.i realize that the longer challenge is presented to the gaming public.any way it's good.


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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 AM  

  • good guide :)

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