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WoWSep 27, 2018 3:30 pm CT

Is the mission table really necessary in Battle for Azeroth?

This article was originally posted just for our supporters, but now it’s public for everyone to enjoy.

Every day I go through a semi-familiar routine, at this point. Log into WoW, check to see which emissary is up for the day, and head to the mission table to cash in on any missions I’ve finished. At one point the mission table was a focus of interest for me – was I going to get one of those missions with a pet or a mount as a reward? What kind of champion equipment would I have waiting for me this time? Was that pile of gold going to bonus into an even bigger pile of gold?

That…has suddenly ceased, as has my interest in the mission table altogether. Don’t get me wrong, I still run the missions – it’s something to do, after all – but it’s with only a bare trace of lackluster enthusiasm. I know what’s going to be waiting for me at that mission table: reputation, Azerite power, or a laughably small amount of gold. Sometimes pet charms are thrown into the mix, but it’s rare at best. And I find myself wondering more often than not – is this really necessary anymore?

Garrisons in Warlords

The first iteration of the mission table was introduced in Warlords of Draenor. An integral part of the garrison system, players sent their characters out on missions to bring back valuable resources, treasure, gold, or whatever it was they happened to find. The list of available champions to recruit for these missions was gigantic. Each champion had their own set of abilities they could counter, and trying to keep track of them all was a complicated jumble that sent a lot of players scrambling for an addon that could handle all that thinking for them – myself fully included in that statement.

But despite the sometimes overly-complicated aspects of the mission table, it worked. It had a point, and that point was tied inexorably to the garrison itself. If you wanted to do anything with your garrison, those missions were necessary. If you wanted to advance your legendary quest chain, those missions were necessary. And even if you didn’t particularly care about those other aspects, there were additional rewards to be found at the table.

Warlords wasn’t a drag because of the mission table. Warlords was a drag because there was little to do beyond that mission table, aside from raiding. The idea behind the mission table was excellent, and although its functionality was somewhat overly complicated, it still worked. Warlords then introduced a second mission table for naval missions, which is where I feel it stumbled. We had one pretty good engaging table – did we really need a second one in the same expansion? But it worked, it was slightly less complex, and it again offered some pretty great rewards as payoff for all the ship upgrading and unlocking of areas we had to do.

Legion’s Order Halls

Legion saw the return of the mission table – this time, slightly more streamlined. Gone were the endless champions to choose from: now you had a much smaller list of individuals to work with. The addon didn’t feel necessary anymore as it was much easier to keep track of which champions had which abilities. The ability to have a champion act as your bodyguard without a garrison building was appreciated, even if the NPCs sometimes got in the way (I’m looking at you, Rexxar).

In many ways, Legion feels like the perfect iteration of that mission table system. Rewards were good – beyond good, in some cases. Gold was almost alarmingly easy to pile up and acquire. And once again, the system was tied into the functionality of your Order hall, your home-away-from-home. If you wanted to get the most out of your Order Hall, you had missions to complete. If you wanted to max out your Artifact weapon, there were missions to complete. And if you just wanted some cool toys or pets, there were missions for those, too.

But it never felt particularly overwhelming, in part because unlike Warlords, there were a lot of things to do outside of that mission table.  Between World Quests, Suramar, and later content releases like the Broken Shore and Argus, players didn’t lack for options, content-wise. The mission table was simply something you popped in every now and again to check up on. You didn’t really take note of how long any one mission took to run, because you were busy doing other stuff in the meantime.

Missions in Battle for Azeroth

In Battle for Azeroth, we have another mission table. Unlike its predecessors, it’s not tied to any system – you don’t have anything to upgrade like a Garrison or an Order Hall. It’s used to help unlock the War Campaign, which is needed for story advancement, and Outposts, which are incredibly useful as far as being additional flight paths in enemy territory.

You can upgrade certain aspects of it through War Effort Advancements, but those mostly affect World Quests, Warfronts, Island Expeditions, and other outside features. And in some ways, it doesn’t feel like those Advancements are necessarily required – you can get along just fine without them.

Rewards from mission tables at the moment appear to most frequently include extra reputation or Azerite power. Sometimes you can send out a mission for a small sum of gold, but it’s small – laughably small in the face of what we were getting in Legion. You can give your champions gear upgrades, but they must be either crafted, or purchased from the AH – no more champion equipment as table rewards.

Something to do

Here’s the thing: You can complete the War Campaign fairly easily. I did it over the course of a weekend, and I wasn’t particularly focused on the effort. You can get Azerite from World Quests, scattered all over the place. You can get reputation from the same source – World Quests – and you can get gold via that method as well – way more gold than the mission table offers.

The table isn’t tied to any one system, which means it’s just floating – literally, in the case of Kul Tiras – out there. It’s a side thing to keep track of that feels like it should be important, given the importance of its predecessors. But it doesn’t live up to that expectation. You think it should have meaningful rewards, but it’s continually proved that the rewards are just…more of the same.

Keeping all this in mind, the mission table in Battle for Azeroth doesn’t really feel like something we need vs. just something else to do. It feels like a holdout of a system that maybe didn’t need to be carried over. The mission table in Legion was a streamlined, functional, integral part of the Order Hall without feeling like a burden. The mission table in Battle for Azeroth feels like it was trying to capture that same idea, but lost all its meaning somewhere along the way.

This isn’t to say the expansion is bad – Battle for Azeroth is amazing so far. The story is beautifully done; the quests and zones are engaging. Dungeons are a blast, Island Expeditions are fun, and while as an Alliance character (for now) I have yet to experience Warfronts, I’m looking forward to seeing what they offer.

The mission table is just one weirdly unpolished lump sat squarely in the middle of all this wonderful stuff, and I wonder why it’s there. Why it’s necessary. If it’s even needed at all. Maybe it’ll prove itself useful in patches to come, but for now…well, for now I do the missions, because they are there. Not because I particularly want to do them. New systems are all well and good when they’re necessary – but when they’ve outlived their usefulness, maybe it’s better to just let them go.

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