The Invasion Roller Coaster

It’s no secret that I’ve been having some fun with the pre-Legion events happening in WoW. The new quests are interesting and chock full of lore, and the invasion events are entertaining, quick, and showcase some pretty sweet new tech that we’ll see more of in the expansion. Those invasions have gone through some major changes since they went active, though. While my enjoyment of them in general is still high and I do still think they are a success, the whiplash-inducing speed at which xp gains have fluctuated has been troubling. It showcases what appears to me to be the usual Blizzard motif of making huge changes, reversing them, then eventually settling in a middle ground that nobody asked for. See: flying, daily quests, etc.

When the invasions started last Tuesday they gave almost zero XP for leveling characters. I did a few on my baby mage back then. While the scaling tech was cool and getting level-appropriate gear out of the treasure chests was nice, without any XP there was no incentive at all to farm on low level characters when I had perfectly good 100s around that needed gear.

The Invasion Roller Coaster

Not-so-baby-anymore Mage’s new arcane transmog for level 100!

Then the invasions were hotfixed to provide XP. Oodles and gobs of XP. Delicious XP as far as the eye could see. A single full invasion could give multiple levels worth of XP for lowbies, and even at 90+ they still gave a huge fraction of a level. During this bounty I leveled my baby mage from 61 to 100. For the last 10 levels I held onto my boxes, and when I dinged 100 I had almost a full set of ilvl 700 gear, including a fully upgraded ilvl 725 weapon and a couple of warforged 710 and 720 pieces. Truly it was a glorious time to be a baby alt.

The update this Tuesday pretty thoroughly derailed this XP train. Yes, you still got XP for invasions, but only a fraction of what they gave last week. Yes, technically there was more XP available in any given 4-hour window for one toon, because there were more invasions spawning. Unfortunately it required much more work, traveling around getting to each invasion and completing 6 instead of 2. During this time, I’d say that invasions were still worthwhile for lowbie characters, but only to do a few times to earn specific rewards you might be chasing, or fill in time between dungeon queues. There was just way more effort required to get the same amount of reward as last week. This led to even more people than usual afking to get the stage completion XP, instead of actually participating in the event.

More recently there’s been yet another adjustment to try to address the afk problem. Now XP from killing mobs in the invasions has been substantially increased. I get that this is to try to encourage people to actually participate, but it has some nasty side effects. The XP gets split depending on contribution, and depending on how many people are attacking a given mob. That means that big bosses with dozens of people hitting them still give almost no XP, and even smaller mobs that you could solo will have their XP reward halved if someone else touches them. This encourages people to hunt down smaller mobs to solo kill in hidden corners of the zone, and to get belligerent if anyone comes along to try to help. It seems like exactly the opposite of what you would like to see in terms of people working together to take on these big social events. It is also extra rough for lower level characters, since with no or only slow flight it is hard to get out of the main town and contribute in phase 3.

I’m not sure why they felt the need to keep changing things so drastically. I honestly would be fine with either of the first two XP options they tried. The first way, with no XP to speak of, at least let lowbies participate and see what all the fuss was about, while encouraging people to gear up their level 100s. The second way, which worked the most in my favor, let people get to 100 quickly and get ready for the expansion. Since it is such a limited time event I’m not sure why Blizzard sees it as so bad that people are excited about the expansion and want to have their toons at max level to be ready to see the Legion content. It seems like it would encourage expansion sales, although I guess it would probably hurt the sales of level boosts.

All of the additional changes this week have mostly served to annoy me. At this point I have no idea what to expect from invasions from day to day, and what the most useful and profitable way to participate in them will be. While I could use the ilvl 700 gear on some of my alts, I don’t need anything else for cosmetic purposes, so maybe this is just the point where I stop bothering with invasions altogether? If everybody starts feeling this way though, we’ll get to the point next week where invasions are popping up everywhere all the time, but nobody cares enough anymore to bother trying to stop the Burning Legion. That would be a bummer of a way to start off a new expansion.

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