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The Lore Vacuum Effect

Matthew Rossi

It's no secret that I'm into World of Warcraft for the lore. I play the game for the story, to a great extent. And that's what makes end of expansion lulls the hardest for me - I know that there will be no new story. This time around, Mists of Pandaria has just absolutely ground me into the dust. I simply can't make myself be interested in playing when I know the story this well. I've leveled Horde to get a new look at things, run the Dominance Offensive, done the Isle of Thunder, even run Siege LFR on him. I've seen it. Alliance and Horde, I've seen it.

I know that a great many players, perhaps the majority of the game's players, do not care about this. I accept this as fact. I don't expect you to put lore and narrative ahead of gameplay. I know Blizzard designs the game with gameplay firmly ahead of the lore. But it's still a huge issue for me, and there are other players like me - not only does it affect how they're playing now, but it controls whether or not they'll play it in the future.

For myself, it's been excruciating to log on for the last month or so. I've done everything I want/need to do. I've seen every fight. I've raided in Siege since it came out. And it's funny, because even back in ICC, when we had a similar experience, it didn't feel this awful. It's not that the gameplay is worse, either - at least for me, I certainly think the game is in a solid place compared to then. But no, it really comes down to this - I am done with Mists of Pandaria. I've leveled alts. I've PvP'd. I've raided. I've run scenarios and dungeons.

The dearth of new content in these doldrums is simply not something I was prepared for. Perhaps that's the problem - Mists of Pandaria flew through its content. Back in March of 2013 I asked if patches were coming out too fast. Fourteen months later I would absolutely say yes. Yes they did. Patches came out way too fast. Especially patches like 5.1 and 5.3, which contained no raid content, but a host of new world content (5.1 in particular was filled with quests and an unfolding storyline) for players to explore.

I also admit that I found the Timeless Isle less than compelling in terms of replay value. Whereas I found the Dominance Offensive and Operation: Shieldwall had enough of this for me to play through them on five different characters, two Horde, three Alliance. I've only ever taken one character out to the Timeless Isle. There was no reason to bring anyone else when the same gear drops for any of your characters, ultimately - you're best off only bringing your best geared toon until you have an alt geared enough to start farming Burdens of Eternity. And that was never anything I wanted to do on an alt.

If there was a story hook to the Timeless Isle aside from a quest that you need to go into Siege of Orgrimmar to complete, maybe I would be excited. Maybe I would care. But there isn't. As much fun as the Timeless Isle is to explore, it's not fun once you've explored it. Not for me, anyway. I do realize this is a subjective complaint, but for me grinding gear isn't as much fun without a story behind it, not even for transmog gear.

Now, I'm very much looking forward to Warlords of Draenor, but it's hard to keep interested in even that when I still have so little of an idea what the actual story of the expansion is going to be. I've combed through spoilers, of course I have. But all those spoilers do is give you a basic picture, a very loose one lacking in any fine detail. And even if we had an idea of the story beyond those broad strokes (which we didn't really for Cataclysm) we still wouldn't have any new story now.

I think this could have been avoided. More space between patches, and one more patch than we got - because as things stand right now is a very hard time to be a story focused player in World of Warcraft. The gameplay may come first, but the lore is why the game ultimately exists. Without it, you could be playing anything.

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