Yesterday, Blizzard announced that they were shutting down the Beta realms and said testing was officially over. I was one of those that was fortunate enough to get a Beta key and I can’t help but feel like I didn’t do enough with it or that I really got the most out of it.
There were a couple factors in play that prevented me from getting as much done as I may have wanted to. The first one being is that I had never been a part of any kind of Beta testing before. I went into it with a certain set of expectations and ideas and it ended up being nothing like I had imagined. Both in a good way and in a bad way. Usually, when I log in to the game, I have an idea of what it is that I want to do with my time. I will log in and run this instance. I need to farm X amount of Justice Points. I want to level this profession. You can’t always do that in the Beta. My time in the Beta could best be summed up as “Catch as catch can.”
The Beta was also considered something that was going to make or break my future with this game. I went into the Beta as a concerned resto druid and depending on how the changes to my class went and how comfortable I felt with them and everything else in the grand scheme of things, I would either choose to remain a resto druid or make the decision to re-roll to a holy priest. To some degree, I think I already had my mind made up before I started. I think I just wanted to be sure. I think if I would have spent the entire time testing as one class and put all my efforts into testing and really enjoying said class maybe I wouldn’t have walked away from the Beta feeling so divided.
I was disappointed with the response from the community and my fellow players in the Beta, as well. To me, it was very clear from the beginning that this was going to be a game changing expansion. You could see that coming a mile away. Yet, there were still droves of people that were either ignorant to that fact or who simply refused to acknowledge it and insisted on still doing things the old way. This mostly came into play during 5 mans. You would see tanks running in and zerging packs of three or more, you would see DPS wailing on something that is obviously casting a harmful spell, healers who aren’t bringing drinks to refill their mana bars. It made grouping really painful and that was a huge reason I wanted to be a part of the Beta. I love to heal. I wanted to find people to heal. But the groups were unbearable and I couldn’t drag myself through another unprepared PuG.
I really feel that the majority of the player base is not prepared for Cataclysm. They aren’t. I know that sounds taunting or intimidating, but I really feel that way. People have no idea what they are in for. In some really sick way, I’m excited about the possibility of sitting back and seeing who is going to make the cut and adapt to the changes. I know some people are really going to struggle and the process of getting to 85 is really going to weed out the weak, sorta speak. I look forward to seeing who can make the best of it and get with the program and who can’t. I think these changes have been a long time coming and a return to some really old mechanics and standards that were sadly missing in WoTLK.
The last thing I found really confusing was the process of testing the actual raid content. In my experience, you would see announcements on MMO of which raids were being tested and you basically had to beg in Trade chat for someone to take you. There were times I got selected and times I didn’t. I wasn’t aware of any guilds on my realm (Lost Isles) that were organized enough to be running the raids, so I didn’t feel that was an option. I also didn’t plan on changing guilds/realms on Live during this time and that ended up taking up time I could have been spending trying to grovel my way into a test raid. The few pieces of content I was a part of where extremely fulfilling and enjoyable. Overall, it felt like trying to jump into a game of double dutch that had already started.
At the end of the day, I would like to think I still made some bit of difference in the Beta, in my own way. I submitted a lot of feedback, mostly on quests and small UI issues or things like that. I submitted a few tickets on spelling mistakes or grammar errors and I submitted a bug ticket recently because Chakra: Serenity wasn’t working as intended. I don’t know if anyone was really listening, but it still felt good to know that the door was at least open and there was the chance that what I said could make a difference. I feel a bit more prepared now, where if I did get into another Beta, I would know what to expect and I could play a bit smarter.
In closing, I was thrilled to be included and I look forward to seeing which things I experienced in the Beta will make it to Live or which will remain things that I get to remember for myself, with the help of some lovely screenshots.