I was flipping through YouTube and came across this video by Bellular. I played WoW for a while and was interested, so I watched it through.
Yeah, this hits it on the head.
And how he feels about WoW is how I feel about D&D and Pathfinder/Starfinder. These games have gotten too pop-culture, soft, mass-market, safe, padded room, and cute. Everything I liked about the edge and cool factor of Pathfinder 1e is gone now. Stafinder looks like a plushie RPG. D&D and the iconic worlds feel like your old favorite places to eat, but under the new management, you get this feeling that everything sucks.
I used to have some interest in Forgotten Realms novels. These days? Thoroughly checked out of Wizard's brand of mass-market Wall Street quarterly numbers fantasy gaming. Any story they could write, even by bringing back the genre's legends, would not interest me.
Engagement is way off because the parent company does not care, or they care about the wrong things.
I like A5E; the math and technical challenges are back. The game's feeling is like any other 5E clone; the only thing interesting about the world is what I bring to it. Otherwise, it is still a bland, generic 5E clone. Tales of the Valiant? The same, another 5E clone that feels like Generi-5E. I love the mechanics, innovations, and presentation - but the excitement and engagement are not there unless I do much lifting.
What drew me into A5E was the world and characters I brought to the table.
I spun them all up in Castles & Crusades, made a few mods, and had the same thing. If you can do this and still retain the same level of engagement, the game you are playing is not keeping you there. I still like A5E for the math, but the game feels generic and lacks flavor and style.
For ToV, I am saving all my Kobold Press content and not using it until that game drops. It sits on a shelf, and I want that flavor to belong to ToV and give it the best chance I can when I finally have it. Midgard is fabulous and I feel some engagement there. But that is for next year. I don't want to burn out that great KP library on A5E.
I tried replaying the old 4E Nerrath setting with A5E and felt that same 'who cares' feeling set in. An old Wizards setting I have fond memories of isn't really doing it because what we loved about that setting was more 4E than the setting. Remove that game, and who cares?
Engagement and excitement are what I look for.
A world and characters I care about.
Knowing I am not being pandered to by the same tired, cute tropes.
And a game that challenges me.