The top complaint from people this expansion is that the game is not very alt friendly. Most people seem to think the expansion if fantastic, or at least very good, but the replay value of doing it on an alt is very low. Over the last few weeks I've been rewatching a TV series I used to like and it got me to thinking about doing / watching the same thing over again. What makes something replayable more precisely.
This weekend I finished the last of season 6, the final season, of the TV show Lost. I had not watched it since it originally aired so it was a nice throwback to see it again. I actually think I enjoyed it more the second time around even. The thing is, if I would have watched it all over again when season 6 came out on DVD I might not have had the same opinion I just did because it was all still fresh and new to me.
Waiting as long as I did to watch it again, even if I had all the DVD from the moment they were first released, did a world of good for the replayability of the series in my opinion. While I still think the series took a turn for the worst in season three when they seemed to become more interested in being a love story and less a mystery, I did not feel it played out as badly as it did the first time around. Probably because I knew this was just a rough patch of bad writing and it would pass.
When the series was over I came to a conclusion that I seemed to have missed my first time watching it. If you had watched it originally you might remember the take on the final episode online and what most viewers thought about it. Spoiler ahead, if you ever plan to watch it and do not know. The opinions were that the passengers were dead the whole time and their time on the island was some sort of purgatory. I never quite agreed with that, but could not fight it as it seemed to be the consensus. The thing is after watching it this second time around I realized that while that seems to have made sense it was wrong. They were not dead. Most definitely not.
The flash sideways images we see in the last season was, for lack of a better word, purgatory. The time on the island was real. It actually happened, they were actually there, left, went back, everything we saw was their real life and they were alive for it. I would go into it deeper but that is not what this post is about. It is about something being replayable.
You see, the reason I enjoyed watching it so much the second time around is because I waited long enough and it did not feel like more of the same. Sometimes, if you really like something, you can watch it over and over again but other times, even if you really like it, there needs to be a space of time before you can fully enjoy it again.
As for what makes something replayable it falls into one simple category that will be different for everyone based on their opinions. If you can get something out of it, it has replayability. I doubt I would have got as much out of watching lost a second time if I had done so right away but waiting long enough I did. So much so that even if I saw it all before it felt all new to me again.
And this is where mists faults itself this expansion and while most might really think it is an excellent expansion they are not feeling it when making alts. The replayability is just not there because doing everything again, which seems required, is too soon. Which makes there be little or no replayability.
This was the key to wrath and why I oft times call it the rise of the alts. Wrath had excellent replayability. Catching up never felt like a task, it always felt like you could do it if you want to or not. Gearing up to catch up was about time investment that could be done all in one day or over time. The head and shoulder enchants would not kill you if you did not have them because skill was more of a factor than a numbers game. Sure, you would be looked at more seriously with them and you could do better with them, but you could also do just fine without them, there was not such a huge emphasis on stats and gear like their is now.
The reason it became the rise of the alts was because there was something people could get out of it. They did not feel as if they had to press on through something they did not want to if they did not want to. Kind of like that season three lull that I did not like in lost. If I had watched it right away it would have had a feeling of more of the same and I probably would have said, I do not like this, screw it, and stopped watching it the second time around. But waiting made me think it was okay again. When there is something people really dislike, having to do said thing again can really turn them off.
And that is why I believe there is the alt issue with mists. Raising alts in Mists is Lost's season three. Something what while it is part of a much bigger and better picture, doing it too soon again will ruin the experience as a whole. Just like if I had watched lost again right away I would have stopped watching at season three, but waiting long enough made it something that even if I was not so fond of it I could bear with again because I knew there was a much greater good, enjoyment, after it was over.
Bringing up an alt right now and having to do the gearing up process through dailies and such is like that season three. You know it won't take long, it is part of a much bigger picture, but you just do not enjoy it and do not want to do / watch it. Unlike with a TV series, where if I wanted to I could have just skipped it, there is no option to do that in game, so it would be like being forced to watch season three right after I had just finished it, over and over again for each alt I wanted to level.
That would really turn me off on the series if I need to watch the worst season of what was an otherwise excellent series over and over. So I would not do it. But like I said, with a TV show you have that option to skip it, in a game you do not. If you need to grind reputations you need to grind reputations. Without it you can not go on to season four.
So what makes something replayable?
If you can do it, even with the parts you do not like to do, and still enjoy it fully, it is replayable. For some things there needs to be a time break to make it repalyable while others, no matter how much time passes, are just not worth doing again.
The key with me enjoying watching lost again, all of it, was that I knew I did not really need to watch the part of the series I did not like. I knew that at any moment if I really got bored with it I could skip it any move along to the parts of the show I wanted to see, the stuff I liked more. Even if I did watch it all, it was knowing I did not have to watch it that made me want to see it again.
This is what is missing in mists for most people. No matter what there is no skipping because there is no quick pass options. You need to go through the boring stuff, even if you know it will not take long. It is enough to turn you off and that is why there is the alt rebellion. Unlike the rise of the alts in wrath were the only thing that could ever happen was not having a head and shoulder enchant and neither of those were capable of making or breaking you game play wise, it goes to show you, for most, what warcrafts replayability is.
When you do not need to go through the gear up process on alts, when there is a quick and easy catch up, people love it. When there is a more involved process and you forced, or for those people that refuse to think people are forced, feel forced to do it then it becomes a game breaker.
If season three got to me and I could not skip it I would have never watched lost again. I would have never found new things I did not see the first time through. I would have never came away with feeling differently then the first time I saw the end. I would have never noticed that the series was actually a lot better than I remembered it even if I did like it the first time through.
That rough patch, and all things have a rough patch, is what dictates somethings replayability. There are only two ways to get past that rough patch in most things. One is time, let it pass until you do not mind going though that rough patch again or press on through it hoping for something better at the end. The problem with pushing through it is that you start to resent having to have pushed through it. So much so that you start to dislike the exact thing you liked and pushed through to experience.
I think mists would do itself well if it tried to remove its season three. Take away the reputation wall. The valor wall to slow people down is more than enough now that the expansion is under way. Either that, or people will have to keep watching season three and sooner or later they are going to realize that it is just not worth putting yourself through that horrible season without the option to hit fast forward.
It comes down to what people like and what they are willing to put up with. I am sure there are a fair deal of people that liked Kate and Sawyers caged loved and Jack and Juliet exchanging shy smiles but for me it left me thinking, stop with the filler content just to take up time and get on with the much better story I know you have to offer. That is the same exact thing I feel about doing reputation on alts, stop with the filler content just to give me something to do and let me get on with the much better game I know you have to offer. For me, it kills the replayability.
What makes something replayable for you? Or more importantly, what kills the replayability for you?