Spoilers here for the DW fight.
Cynwise killed Deathwing tonight. I’d honestly thought it was something I’d either miss this expansion, or that it would be an end-of-xpac kind of kill. I thought it would be something I’d be trumpeting and going AW YEAH and TAKE THAT and PWND and /FLEX.
I’m not feeling any of those things. Oddly, I think it’s a hugely fun fight, epic in the right ways, with enough action cues to make me go AW YEAH while I was doing it. On to the ship! GO GO GO GO grab a parachute GO GO GO GO GO on to the next rock GO GO GO GO GO stop Deathwing before he blows up the world GO GO GO YOU LAGGARDS!
Matthew Rossi covered this feeling of epicosity well in Big Stakes and the End of an Expansion. It’s a good read, about how – story wise – this is a perfect ending to this expansion. I completely agree. I finally feel fulfilled with the story, engaged with it, my own characters place within it has solidified in a way that only happened once Arthas lay dead at my feet in Wrath. Cataclsym didn’t feel real to me until End Time and Dragon Soul.
But there’s a real difference here, too. With DS, my response to Deathwing’s death was, dang, that was cool. It was fun and fulfilling. It also took about 1 hour tonight, and we 1-shot bosses I’d never seen before in LFR.
With ICC, I sobbed when Arthas hit the ground. Months of frustration and learning to raid and trying to get the right group and Jesus why am I dying to Infest and all the rest culiminated into a cathartic outpouring of relief and joy.
These two experiences highlight, for me, the difference in hitting story-based goals versus hitting performance-based goals. Before LFR, they were intertwined. Now, I can experience reaching the story goal without also reaching the performance goal.
This is good, because my interest in actually pursuing normal raiding is pretty low. I’m probably not going to kill Deathwing on Normal, and I’m okay with that.
But it’s bad, because by removing the story-based incentive Blizzard also lessens the impact of (and motivation for) completing the raid on normal difficulty. I’m pretty sure that I’m done with Cataclsym at this point. I might level up a few alts, hang out with folks, but that dragon thing? Stick a fork in it. Done.
Is that really bad, though? I mean, if I was already drifting away (and let’s face it, I have been), is it better to go out with a great story and having fun? Or should the game try to keep me engaged, try to get that sense of real accomplishment out of hitting a raid goal?
I think, all in all, that just letting me go with a fun action-adventure that didn’t take all that long was probably the right thing for my long-term interest, if not my short term.
I’m done with Cataclysm. That’s strange to say, it feels strange to consider it that way, but it’s really true. I’ve won the xpac. I can go do something else now.
I have some minor gripes about some of the motifs and imagerly used in the end of the story arc, mostly with the “Age of Mortals” idea, but I don’t think I want to dwell on them tonight.
It’s a bittersweet thing when a story ends.