But I didn’t even consider the effect on the “this minute” gameplay. For me, calculating what is the optimal route is enough to take it. If that optimal route is unbearably not fun, I simply abandon the game, but I will not take a suboptimal route just because it’s fun. Which is fine, but most people don’t work that way.
However Syp wrote a good post how these mechanisms destroy the fun of the current game, before they are even implemented:
So instead of being excited to build up my character by working on my artifact weapon, farming legendaries, etc. and carrying that with me to Battle from Azeroth, now I have no — zero — reason to do any of that. It’s not just a gear reset, it’s a reset of character progression in this regard. It’s Blizzard, yet again, taking away a talent tree to give us a different talent tree just to eventually take away that talent tree to give us another talent tree.
MAKE. UP. YOUR. MIND. AND. COMMIT ALREADY.
Now, on the one hand, he is very wrong. He assumes incompetence where there is malice. Blizzard doesn’t seek the perfect talent tree, they change the system every expansion on purpose, to completely destroy the old. This way the newcoming players don’t have disadvantage over those who spent hundreds of hours building the old talents.
However he is completely right on the “feeling” part. The “pre-expansion lull” hits even the most emotion-driven player, because it becomes obvious that any kind of effort he puts into character progression will be taken away completely. Everything the game has to offer is “old” and “irrelevant”, even before the new content arrives. Why bother if it’s already announced that it’ll be taken away.
I really hope that the classic server will be implemented without catch-up mechanisms. And if successful, I hope it will receive a TBC upgrade, but reworked at the no-catch-up idea. So the lvl 58 fel orcs should be tuned to Vanilla dungeon geared players and give Vanilla dungeon level rewards. This still serves as a catch-up, as Vanilla green players can team up and slowly kill these mobs for serious upgrades, while Vanilla dungeon geared players can solo them and move faster. But they should be easy for Vanilla epic geared players and should not give any upgrades for Vanilla raiders. Those players should be able to ignore TBC normals and move directly to heroics which give equal gear to fill up the holes or go directly to raiding. This way even when TBC is announced on the Vanilla servers, there is reason to continue to progress in Vanilla.