Since Wrath came out, my friends - like many WoW players - have expressed various degrees of disappointment with the difficulty level. We're not "hard core" players, nor are we purely casual. We want to log in and have a variety of experiences. As time marched on, all of us broke with 25-man raiding. We started spending more and more time just doing casual stuff together and less and less time Raiding with our guilds. Quests, instances, achievements & 10-mans were the name of the game and that game was losing it's fun.
Early this summer, we decided to switch to our horde toons in an effort to breath new life into our experience. We had abandoned the toons way back when Burning Crusade happened. Equipped with our under-geared level 60's & a pair of Death Knights, we began to run old instances. It was fun, but much easier than we remembered.
Then the beginning of the end.
Upon reaching 70, our Prot Pally, Destro-Warlock and I (on a hybrid Disc leveling priest) blew through Utgarde Keep. This was in crappy outland dungeon blues & greens. The next night, the 3 of us went over to Nexus. It was much more of a challenge for us, but we also defeated that instance. Heck, it felt like an actual accomplishment. We had fun! It felt like a Burning Crusade instance. We also felt sad. In order to achieve this effect, we had to be undermanned, undergeared and play toons that none of us had touched for 2 years.
Now in the 70-72 range, our group picked the lock to Kara. We obliterated it with 6 players. Again, undermanned, undergeared and on unfamiliar toons. Fun, but...sigh!
Finally, the nail in the coffin.
After doing Kara for a few weeks (and trying some bosses in AZ), we returned to Northrend and went after instances with mobs 3-5 levels higher than us. Azjol-Nerub...pathetic. Next came Drak'Tharon Keep. At one point, I - the healer - got so bored that I ran past the tank and used SW:P to aggro 4 packs of mobs back to our tank. Nobody died!
The idea that my level 72 Discipline Priest could intentionally aggro 4 packs of elite level 75-76 mobs to our under-level party and obliterate them was too much for us. What did we have to look forward to? Our Alliance toons had 10-man Ulduar (which was still mostly challenging.) Our Horde would quickly catch up. There was nothing else. Achievement grinding is all well and good, but where's the excitement? 5-man heroics...heroic, my ass!
I wrote a survey for the group asking various questions about our various needs from our online experience & how folks felt about WoW. The answers were all the same. We played MMO's to play together. We want to have fun, but we also want to be challenged. WoW was no longer doing that. The game had degraded into two types of encounters: Mindnumbingly easy or super-impossible hardmode. One friend put it best...
That the game now only seems to have two degrees of difficulty: "Bring your A game or don't come (and you'd better not have more than 400ms latency)" and "Go ahead and face roll your keyboard, we don't care, you win, have this completely useless item."
Why would we continue to play under those conditions? None of us needed the so-called hardcore gamer experience, but none of us want to face roll the keyboard either. We took the results of our little survey, did some research and plan to adopt Lord of the Rings Online as our new MMO home for now. We should all complete our transition by September.
Some of my friends have been with Warcraft since the original beta. My wife and I have been playing for nearly 4 years. There are been weeks & months where we did nothing else but sleep, work, wow. I understand making WoW accessible. I liked the concept. They went too damned far.