Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Own Hyper-Personal View on Companion Nerfs/Buffs

Recently, Bioware made some changes to the overpowered companions that launched with 4.0.  I believe the actual technical term for the companions' power level was "WTFBBQSAWSE."  Let's all face it ... when your companions are outperforming some players (per reports, I never personally experienced it), there may be a very slight problem.

And I do mean slight.  Honestly.

I was not one of the doomsayers, naysayers, or any other type of -sayer (save for soothe) that lobbied hard for companions to be nerfed.  Frankly, I couldn't care less if my companion was nigh-unkillable (they weren't) or they made me basically indestructable (I wasn't).  I got close in a few fights, notably the showdown near the Gravestone ... and well, that was it really.  Everything else was roflstomp.

I'm ok with that.

In fact, I'm more than ok with that.  Look, I'm of the opinion that sometimes in MMOs we become so enamored with the illusion of difficulty that it blinds us to fun.  When people say that MMOs were 'harder back in my day,' what they're really saying is that the MMOs they used to play had an extremely long, punishing grind.  The rose-colored glasses are strong in the MMO genre; they make people believe that back in days of yore, everything was harder, better, and funner.  Funnier.  MORE FUN, OK.

But were they?  I guess only you can answer that, really.  For me personally, they were hit and miss.

My main MMO for almost a decade now has been WoW.  Back in TBC, which everyone seems to remember as awesome, things sorta sucked for me.  Some specs simply weren't viable as end-game raiders.  Hell, most *players* weren't viable as end-game raiders.  It was normal for a raid team to be doing content that was 2-3 tiers old.  In fact, you sort of had to just to get attuned.  Most folks remember this expansion fondly ... I don't.  I remember long attunement grinds, whole tiers of content I'd never, ever see, a leveling curve that at the time was borderline sadistic.  There were puddles of water that dismounted you, the hellaciously long Hellfire Peninsula zone, the utterly forgettable Bore's Spire, I mean Bladespire ... shadow DISC priests were a joke (thanks, Shintar!), enhancement shaman were nonviable due to their effective health.  It was a personal nightmare.

The one expansion I remember more fondly than any other is Wrath of the Lich King.  My shorts get tighter when I talk about this expansion.  I loved the raiding.  The world.  The stories.  The classes.  You know what else I loved?  Quitting WoW.  I quit WoW a remarkable 4 times in WotLK.  So, what was there that made me constantly walk away?  Was it the expansion length?  The lack of things to do (lol no really) at max level?  The difficulty (well, at the difficult) of the raiding?  The people I was playing with?  Maybe a mix of all those and more.  For an expansion that I get such a raging nerd-boner off of, I sure didn't mind walking away from it.

But it never fails to bring a smile to me.  Grinding weapon skills.  That damn jousting.  Ulduar.  The feeling of flying over Icecrown Citadel.  Wintergrasp.  The dailies.  Reputations.  Such a glut of stuff to do!  I do conveniently forget all the reputation grinding.  The times Wintergrasp crashed whole servers.  The faction imbalance that basically meant me and my fellow Horde owned Wintergrasp for more than a year on Blackwater Raiders.  The pretty long grind to 80.  The raids that had uninspired, re-used mechanics (hello Naxx) or were just fights in one room (hello Trials) or the places we spent over a year in (hello ICC).  I don't remember the badge grinds for last tier's gear (OK, that was actually pretty effin' amazing).

I don't remember any of that stuff.  I just remember the good.  And that's why when folks say they like their MMOs harder and they like companion nerfs, I understand.  I really do.  I may not agree, because at the end of the day, I'd rather have fun then grind, but I understand.

So when folks asked for nerfs to companions, I didn't care one way or another.  Were companions OP?  If we're honest with ourselves, we'd have to say "hell yes."  Was it fun when the companions were OP?  Well, I certainly like to think so.  It just made things easier (oh no, filthy casual alert!) and for me, who has limited time, that was attractive as hell.  I could blow through the story and not worry too much about it.  That's probably not a good thing if I'm honest about it, but it is what it is.

Fast forward to yesterday and apparently they're coming out with new companion buffs.  They took a scalpel too deep to the companion abilities, it would seem.  Now they are reversing course, mainly with the healing.  I think a lot of players voiced concern that the Heroic 2+ missions would no longer be available to most players; I tend to agree.  I know I'll out myself as a filthy casual, but I actually had a few problems on Belsavis Heroic 2+s.  Died a couple of times.  Had to use Heroic Moment.  And that was *before* the changes.  Now with the nerf/buff they've received, I don't know how it'll play.  I should probably check it out.  Either way, I'll be playing SWTOR and is that really a bad way to spend the night?  Nah.

I guess this long-ass, rambling post could really be boiled down to this: watch the rose-colored glasses about difficulty and have fun.  I coulda probably said that at the top.  Oh well.


  1. shadow priests were a joke, enhancement shaman were nonviable due to their effective health

    Whaaat? As someone who mained a shadow priest in BC, we must have been playing different games! The spec was awesome back then, I always had a raid spot and people actually got into fights over whose group I got to buff! Same with enhancement shamans, our regular did awesome dps and was much beloved by all the melee. Then WOTLK came around and shadow lost all its luster, making me respec to healing permanently...

    1. Oh god! I meant to put Disc ... I didn't actually go full Shadow until deep in Lich King. I'll change.

      Also, your enhancer ... you guys may have loved all his buffs and his DPS was probably ok (or he didn't have to fight for gear with hunters and rogues stealing his weapons like me), but let's be honest: he was brought for bloodlust and totems. There were lots of other melee that were waaay better at DPS than enhancement AND we were hella squishy for a melee class. I used to pull aggro all the time and get insta-gibbed. Mail armor's actual defense value hadn't been boosted at that time and shaman (still to this day, I think) had the lowest effective health of any class in WoW. We did good burst, our buffs were great, bloodlust gave us a reason to exist, but we were severely hampered all the way through Cataclysm (when our rotation was butchered).