Quite a lot’s been written about dailies since the launch of Mists of Pandaria, largely because the sheer volume of them (and their perceived necessity) practically overwhelms you when you hit the big ding and start turning your attention to developing your character. I’ve already been involved in a few discussions about just how necessary these dailies are for said development, but it’s no exaggeration to say that this is probably the largest end-game quest assault we’ve seen yet.
I’m not sure if it’s positive or negative.
For me, I found myself nodding at Spinks’ point when she spoke about a daily routine that keeps people logging in day after day. But it would be remiss of me to ignore the discontent that has accompanied the expectation of questing your way up to 90 for the reward of… Yet more quests. There’s no doubt questing itself has come on remarkably in the last seven to eight years, yet daily quests still seem to be a cause of frustration amongst many.
Why is that?
Are the dailies necessary?
Let’s cut to the chase, here.
Those arguing that the dailies are an immediate necessity in order to develop your character are being dramatic. As you can see, I’ve barely bothered with the Klaxxi, Golden Lotus or Shado-pan and I’m currently the best geared Protection warrior on the Alliance side of the Sha’tar. This is because many players, rather than taking a practical approach, have simply jumped off the deep end and started grinding everything like their asses were on fire. Rather than realising that they have a hard cap of three thousand Valor, a cap you can only reach at the conclusion of your third week, there’s literally no reason to plough into those dailies with the voracity some claim is needed.
The complete dismantling of the Justice system is a side-debate that I’m not going to go into right now, but players effectively have a full three weeks before they have to start worrying about reputations. That’s plenty of time to take things more leisurely, especially considering some of the reputation requirements have been dropped.
That said, if you want to spend that Valor, you’re going to have to do your dailies at some point. There’s no avoiding it. Valor items are all behind reputation grinds for the Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, August Celestials and Shado-pan; worse (and correct me if I’m wrong), there’s absolutely no alternative to time-intensive daily quests with the odd turn-in. And because you can’t spend your Valor points until you unlock the vendor reputations, dailies cease being a way of making gold or unwinding with optional content and start being necessary grinds that you have to do, whether you want to or not.
So we DO have to grind everything out?
Well, no – there are some major success stories here.
Namely, the Order of the Cloud Serpent, the Tillers and the Anglers are good examples of how dailies should be used. Not only do you have the dailies themselves, but there are turn ins that allow those who choose to grind out these reputations the option of doing them at their own pace. There are eggs with the Cloud Serpents and soil items for the Tillers, meaning that players can chase down the goodies as quickly as they like. In addition to this, there are normal quests that progress the story, help you to feel like you’re developing, and they also reward even more reputation for you to bank.
The key to this, however, is in one fact:
The rewards are entirely optional.
Mounts, pets, things for your farm or helpful fishing items are all very well, but are generally unrelated to anything else. If you want them you can chase them, but there’s no requirement to do so if you’re not interested in dailies or their rewards. Alas, the same cannot be said about the Valor vendors – if raids and dungeons are your thing, and you dislike quests, you’re still stuck with dailies so that you can spend your raid-earned currency. Dailies aren’t a choice for you, they’re a necessity, and with no alternative, there can only be one solution.
It’s just another needless grind that you’re shoved into.
So the key to good dailies is making them optional?
Well, not entirely, no.
Hiratha was telling me yesterday that she loved the Tol Barad dailies, largely because they were fun and randomized each day so you weren’t doing the same thing. I can get onboard with that, and genuinely think the same of the dailies in Pandaria – they’re imaginative, uncomplicated and a good laugh in some cases. I think the major snag is that when players feel like they’re doing them by necessity, they just want them over and done with as quickly as possible and have no interest in stopping to smell the roses.
I don’t think that’s the only snag, though.
The best reputation grinds in Pandaria, for me, are the Order of the Cloud Serpent. This is because it’s optional, but also grindable via turn-ins. If you don’t like daily quests, you can simply go for a few hours blast in order to get the required items to turn in and you’re laughing. There’s also the sense of progression throughout the reputation levels as new one-time quests pop up and continue the story, simultaneously breaking up the monotony of the dailies and providing good stage boundaries for the player to judge their progress by.
So, this proves that daily quests can be fun, meaningful and non-grindy. Where’s the problem?
The problem is that this model looks eerily like something presented six years ago in Shadowmoon Valley.
The Order of the Cloud Serpent is almost a carbon-copy of the Netherwing grind for the shiniest of Outland’s drakes. And while fun sets of dailies can hardly be construed as a bad thing, the implication is clearly that despite all of the design iteration on quests and the years we’ve had since Netherwing, next to no actual improvements or innovations have been made to the model. It’s exactly the same. For me, it’s no real surprise that less-talented developers have taken longer to reach the same conclusion, but that’s precisely what’s happened.
Phasing technology, personal progression and a feeling of continued evolution is what you get with the Tillers, my second favourite reputation faction in Pandaria. Building up your farm to look different and yield different results as time moves on. Yet, essentially, this faction is simply Farmville tacked on to the tradition of the Molten Front and, prior to that, the Isle of Quel’Danas. Yes, it can easily be argued that the Isle was a group effort to get the statue built, and it was, but the basic model is essentially the same; you “see” the progress being made visually, rather than on a progress bar, and you work toward completion of the project.
I’d say the Molten Front is probably the more accurate progenitor for the Tillers because Quel’Danas wasn’t randomized each day, but the Molten Front didn’t feel optional to many people because of the raid items that were unlocked throughout and there was no way to speed the process up via item turn-ins. It was a painful, and necessary, questing grind depending on your view.
Be clear, what exactly is your complaint?
I don’t have one! This isn’t a whinge. What I’m trying to say is two things:
- 1) If you put raid gear behind a reputation grind, you’re making said grind “mandatory”. Worse, if you go ahead and make said grind manageable by only one activity (dailies) then you’re not providing any options to your players. This is bad design because you’re forcing players to do something they may not want to, for rewards that they might need.
2) If you make rewards optional, such as mounts or pets, and provide additional means to grind a reputation quicker via turn-ins (Cloud Serpent, Sons of Hodir, Mag’har), then they can be fun and a player can make choices. It appears this is as good as it will ever get, as no meaningful innovation has been made to the model in over half a decade.
I think dailies are pretty enjoyable, and they’re a routine piece of content that you don’t need to consume as soon as you get your hands on them. That said, players shouldn’t feel that they “must” do dailies in order to progress their characters yet, here we are, in just that situation yet again in Mists of Pandaria. Hell, despite me saying you have three weeks before you have to start worrying about it, that’s me being unfair to progression raiders who want every leg up they can get as quickly as they can get it. I daresay there are plenty of raid leaders out there who would be somewhat bemused by a raider telling them they weren’t doing as good as they could do because they can’t be bothered with a daily quest grind.
Anyway, that’s enough for this verbose entry. How do you guys feel about dailies and how they’ve been implemented in Pandaria? Is there something I’ve missed? Am I just being stupid?
Or am I finally contented in the realisation that an aspect of the game I happen to like is as good as it gets?