If that isn’t a click bait title, I don’t know what is.
These past several expansions the focus has been, get to the end as fast as you can, here’s a free boost so you can skip all the previous content and get right in there, don’t worry about spending time working at building up a gold reserve, just buy a few hundred thousand off the cash shop.
We have been conditioned into believing that we “have” to get to the end game, the expansion doesn’t really start until your at max level, you need to do the highest level of difficulty to get awesome rewards like “Moar Azerite Powah” 😬
I spent a good 5 months wandering around, investigating little out of the way places, looking through buildings, basements, I truly explored Azeroth on my journey to level 80. When I was closing in on level 77 or 78, everyone was pushing for me to get to 80, gotta get here, there is so much more to do. And while that may have been true for me in Wrath, all the expansions that came after shared a common theme. Spend about 2 weeks getting to cap, then focus on all the reputations, run Normal Dungeons, then Heroic, then start raiding, patch after patch, spend months doing the same content over and over.
The fundamental design hasn’t changed all that much, just the introduction of more difficult versions with Mythic being added. Where things have gone off the rails is that to recapture the feeling of the journey, they have added more in depth requirements, more time consuming activities, overly complex puzzles requiring hours of following a specific set of tasks.
There really isn’t any discovery left in the current game. Either WoWhead, the Secrets Discord, or other 3rd party sites have laid out exactly where, or what you must do to get a reward. The game comes with a complete walk through now. Oh sure, you can go without looking things up, but invariably you will come to a task that has no clue for how to complete it unless you ask friends hoping someone has done it already.
What if the end of the game was getting from level 1 to 120, and that was it. There were no more activities, no Dailies, no World Quests. You leveled a character to max, and then they went off to retire in a cabin by a lake. And then you would start another character of a different class and race and experience a different journey. There is such an inherent design in place that you feel compelled to get there as fast as possible, that we barely take time to read quests, let alone stop to see what NPCs are talking about in town.
What if once your character had retired, if you could summon them to help you for a short period of time, say you need to complete a quest that requires 3 people and you are all alone, what if your champion could swoop in and lend you an assist. Say once a day for a maximum of 10 minutes to prevent it from being abused. How many of us have run across that one rare we have to kill to advance a story, or a rare spawn creature that is a skull level to us. Just an idea.