Three weeks after I installed Wrath of the Lich King I hit level 80 with my gnome rogue. It was an exhilarating journey through Northend and although I have side-lined life a great deal to get to 80, it now occurs to me that I’m not sure what the next step realistically can be.
I don’t have any experience of end-game content. I have spent the last ten months leveling with the occasional break to enter a battleground or two only to dislocate things which quickly promted a return to questing. The result is that I’m now at level 80 and ten months into the game, I have yet to overcome the issues of group play. And lets face it, end game content = group play.
Soloing is pretty easy with the adapted setup I have. I can progress at my own pace, take frequent breaks, stop playing whenever I develop issues and plod along awkwardly without feeling self-conscious. Playing with my husband is difficult, but doable for short periods of time. We do well joining up for the group quests which require up to three players and can usually complete them as a DPS duo (mage and rogue/kitty druid).
Three players begin to be somewhat problematic and five verges on the impossible. I can just about get around most issues to join a three or five man PUG for a single quest, but it’s a nerve wracking and rather unpleasant experience. I simply cannot move my character well enough. I’m perpetually falling behind, in the wrong place and too slow to start the fight. By the time I get my first blow in, it’s close to being the last killing blow. Until I replace my mouse with a different control, that avenue is shut.
Battlegrounds are pretty much the most accessible game space. I can move at my own speed, play pretty much independently and disappear in the masses of a zerg when the fighting starts. I know the battlegrounds and I know my rogue and my druid and I know my skill level. As long as I slot myself into an informal group, nobody notices that I’m not quite as on my toes as I should be. The new battleground with its siege engines are more difficult to adapt to and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to keep going back despite my obvious ineptitude. Same goes for Lake Wintergrasp. There’s only so many derogatory comments a person can take before graciously bowing out. It’s not that I blame them, I feel the same way about my pvp skill. It is sub-standard at best.
Arenas and raids are solidly out. I have difficulty hearing and vent is a garble of indistinguishable noises I’d rather avoid, at least until I have sorted out all the other issues I have. I guess I could use speech to text software to convert other people’s chatting to text, but it’s not an ideal solution. Alternatively, if I can find a group where I can get to know individual speech within a given context, I could make it work. But the laundry list of obstacles for raiding / arenas closes that door to end-game and bolts it to boot.
I generally find World of Warcraft to be very accessible. I keep adding hardware and software and as time goes by my gaming skill improves one step at a time. I enjoy leveling my characters and Azeroth is not a virtual world I would trade for any other. Even though I still feel on the outside looking in as far as the gaming community is concerned, at least I can quest and fish and play for distraction. And most importantly, it’s somewhere I can go to unwind and relax.
I do regret missing out on the end-game content. I can count the instances I’ve ventured into on one hand and most are unpleasant memories of wiping because I either couldn’t respond fast enough when it mattered or grew too tired to move my fingers because I couldn’t take my usual hand and screen breaks. Once you’re seeing everything in double, have turned off the sound because all you hear are wooshy noises and begin to hear finger joints pop as they dislocate from repetitive use, it’s no longer fun.
I haven’t given up on end-game content just yet. There are still a few avenues to explore. For starters, in my gaming ignorance I probably picked the worse possible class to play with moving issues. Playing a rogue in a pvp setting is probably never going to happen. I loved leveling my rogue, but it may be time to retire her to a lifetime of fishing and maybe a little hunting in grizzly hills. I’m trying to dust off my druid now as I level her from 70 to 80 and it’s reminded me why I chose a druid as my first character and has made me regret not leveling her first as she’s a joy to play.
I am seriously looking into replacing my mouse with a joystick. I’ve been through various types and versions of different mice and they have all been extremely difficult to use. Some days I can’t play at all because I can’t move the mouse at all. Other days I can just about move the mouse, but the pressure is all wrong resulting in sluggish and unresponsive character movements. Clicking the buttons is pure agony and the scroll wheel is impossible to use. The additional issues that carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome with a dislocating shoulder produces is just not something I can see myself being able to put up with long-term. I am hoping that a joystick may work better.
I don’t know if end-game content will ever be reliably accessible to me, but maybe if I keep improving my set-up one piece at a time I will eventually get there.