WoW slain by Blizzard. Time to pick up the crown.

Since about 2006 people have been predicting that the next big MMO would be a ‘WoW killer’ pre-release. Those people were all wrong, every assassination attempt has failed, and WoW still sits on the throne. Until Cata that is.

Now before you go to comment, no, I have not played Cata. But I have talked to various people about it, read a whole lot, and well, I think I get the gist of it. If I’m totally off here, let me know why, but from what I gather, Cata has greatly pushed WoW towards an online single player game, especially the 1-60 revamp. With quests being so linked, phasing being used so heavily, and everything being even more soloable, it’s far more work to actually do the content with others now than it ever has been. Even the group content (BGs, dungeons) is now an anonymous queue-style experience rather than per-organized stuff, and queue up for raids is surely the next step.

And as of day, that seems to work for WoW and Blizzard. Cata sold well, the response has been positive, and people are enjoying the content. But the game today shares little with the game many fell in love with in 2004, and now shares little with even it’s ‘clones’ like LotRO and company. Some view the new quest style as an evolution in MMO questing, but to me it’s a genre-shift more than anything else. The ‘WoW killer’ was Blizzard, who moved the game OUT of the MMO space.

I say this because I don’t think ‘kill ten rats’ quests are dead. I think many players enjoy them, given the right context. In a single player game? No thanks, I’d rather do Witcher-style stuff (god that game is amazing), but online while I chat with guild-mates and work towards some over-arching goal? Sign me up. I don’t need or want phasing or complex chain-quests when my goal is to hit a certain level, or finish off a skill (if we are talking skill-based progression). A little side-bonus in the form of a simple quest? I’ll take it, especially if my guild-mates can jump in half-way through and contribute as well.

It’s because of this that I actually view Rift’s ‘old-school’ quests as a plus over what WoW does. MMO content, to me, is not about how fantastic the solo stuff is, it’s about how much fun I can have with everyone else around me. To that end, the ‘simple’ quests are far superior, because they lower the barrier of entry (especially if you have flexible quest sharing and ‘more is better’ mechanics in-game) and allow you to focus on what really counts (other players) rather than the filler NPCs stealing the spotlight. Of course, if ALL you have going is simple quests and nothing more, that’s trouble. But if you have good content besides the core questing stuff (like say, rifts), the simpler style of questing fits in well.

Rift has a rather unique opportunity here, as WoW has transitioned away from being an MMO, and if Rift is WoW 2004 with 2011 updates, I’m interested, and I think I’m not alone on that.

41 Responses to WoW slain by Blizzard. Time to pick up the crown.

  1. Mark says:

    It’s all about what you deem to be fun, if you are like some of my coworkers who would rather grind for hours on end to gain 25% of a level then wow isn’t for you. If you want to play a game where you feel like you did something in an hour even if it is too easy then you will like wow.

    I’ve given up lamenting on what it could or couldn’t be and just accept it for what it is. I don’t have the time to invest into a game like Darkfall but still enjoy playing an mmo. I’ve talked with tons of people in the random dungeon groups, did runs with guildies, and have had to group for quests in the expansion. While the game is still pretty easy beyond pick up group heroic dungeons I wouldn’t call it a single player game.

  2. Bhagpuss says:

    Good post. Pretty much sums up my feelings, too.

    I also haven’t played Cataclysm. It’s by no means out of the question that I may give it a try one day, and I may well enjoy it if I do. But from everything I read about it, it’s not what I would recognise as the same genre I’ve been playing these last ten years.

    WoW seems to be developing into a kind of hybrid, with a quasi-single player RPG introduction leading into a lobby co-op that finally turns into a competetive eSport. There’s still a virtual world in there somewhere and I’m certain I could spend a few more weeks or months pottering around the shattered Azeroth in old-school adventurer/explorer style, but really, why would I want to?

    I completely agree on the Kill Ten Rats style of “questing”, too. Given the choice I much prefer tasks to quests. I like them best of all if they are a logical part of the world I’m supposed to be inhabiting.

    My benchmark for a perfect MMO “quest” is something like the gnoll teeth or crushbone belts hand-ins in the original EQ. I’d happily play a game in which the entire levelling structure was constructed around bounty tasks like that.

    Rift Beta 3 starts tomorrow and I can hardly wait. I know it’s nothing new and the shine will wear off after a while, but it offers the best chance I’ve seen for a long time to just run around, explore, kill stuff and build an an interesting character (or ten). Simple fun, deep satisfaction.

    • Sean Boocock says:

      I’ve been playing Cataclysm since the morning of launch and have not found your conclusion to be true, at least in the later levels.

      What you cited and many others have praised of Cataclysm’s questing dynamics does make that aspect of the game more similar to a Fable 2 or Fallout 3 than it was in the past. There are more interstitial cutscenes within and between quests, more diversity among quest activities, and more, albeit limited, use of phasing. To be clear on the last point, phasing isn’t solo-instancing of the world. Everyone who has participated on the quest lines leading up to the point at which you are will see the buildings, NPCs and even static geometry in the same way you do. You can and will still have your dissonant moment when four “lone heroes” push back Ragnaros into the planes of earth; at least now the environment accurately reflects your narrative progression instead of further adding to that dissonance.

      Cataclysm, however, offers much more that I think on balance makes the game a more social experience. If you read blog posts reflecting on Cataclysm from current players, they will almost all at some point discuss the difficulty of the new group based content, and most seem to greet this as a breath of fresh air. This is to some extent a perception problem as Blizzard’s design paradigm is to make content that is initially challenging but does not scale in difficulty as you acquire gear that eventually trivializes some of the mechanics. At the end of the last expansion, players could almost literally run from entrance to exit of the “heroic” 5-man dungeons, killing everything as they went. However, Cataclysm’s dungeons when compared to those of Wrath at launch are more unforgiving and more involved, difficulty buoyed by some large changes to the healing paradigm.

      You can’t be a silent, solo hero in a Cataclysm dungeon anymore. Healers actually have a finite resource now and that is a fact that every member of the party must keep in mind. Crowd control is necessary, sometimes for nearly every trash pull, which not only requires more personal attention on everyone’s part, but group coordination as well. “How are we going to handle these mobs?” is a question often asked in Cataclysm heroics. This is all to say little about the dungeon bosses themselves who feel more akin to raid bosses in complexity and difficulty.

      The other big improvement to social gameplay in Catalcysm has been the mechanics created around guilds. Guild perks, guild recipes, guild reputation, guild achievements – some of the examples of new systems that reinforce the extant social structures players have created in the game. It pays, in some cases literally, to be in a guild. However, it pays a lot more to participate as a member of your guild. The reward structures for guilds are based around group activities and achievements – doing dungeons in a guild group, raiding with the guild, assembling certain collections of hard to obtain items and much more. The individual components to the guild reward system – mainly perks/items unlocked with personal guild reputation – are earned fastest and most efficiently by playing with your guild. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s gratifying to have the game mark and record your accomplishments as a group just as it does your character. It adds another layer of identity to the guild, something you have a material stake in.

      I’ve been playing a lot since release and haven’t had a better time yet with the game. Raiding, which is my primary activity, has been challenging, diverse, and stands in stark contrast to the claim that the game is being turned into a single player activity. I haven’t even tried the new PvP opportunities, rated battlegrounds that give similarly sized groups the opportunity for high level PvP. The changes to the questing experience seem to be more about hiding the machinations of what is now more than ever an MMO rather than a change to its core philosophy or design tenants. I’m ok with that.

      • Sean Boocock says:

        Was directed at the original post and not intended as a reply to Bhapuss’s comment directly.

      • Carson says:

        I was going to post and say something about the guild changes, but you said it all. Those changes in Cataclysm have pushed WoW away from the “single-player online” at least as much as the quest changes have pushed it towards it, maybe more.

        But ultimately, I would say that WoW is now more than ever the game that tries to broadly appeal and provide “something for everyone.” That’s how Blizzard achieved the success they have, and they’re sticking to it.

        Yes it means that there’s something for everyone to complain about, too. Such is life.

        • Bhagpuss says:

          Most of the changes that you describe as “social gameplay” come within what I look at as “eSport”. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s an aspect of MMOs that I’ve never really enjoyed.

          I much prefer the alternative “all join in” approach that MMOs like Rift and Guild Wars 2 seem to be developing out of WaR’s Public Quests. When done properly, these have the potential to foster more of a “we’re all in it together” commuunity vibe that I feel a lot more comfortable with than the divisive “join my team, we’re better than the others” vibe of a Guild-centred approach.

          But then, I have always disliked Guilds.

        • Mala says:

          To me e-sports refers pretty specifically to ultra competitive PvP (could apply to WoW Arena at the top levels), Starcraft is the game that comes to mind.

          So, what I mean to ask is – what do you mean by esports? Simply “teams” (aka guilds?) being the main arena of social interaction? I think I understand what you are saying re: Rift/Guild Wars 2.

      • Trix says:

        “The other big improvement to social gameplay in Catalcysm has been the mechanics created around guilds. Guild perks, guild recipes, guild reputation, guild achievements – some of the examples of new systems that reinforce the extant social structures players have created in the game.”

        I was enthusiastic about that, too, but no longer. Guild perks are, of course, nice, but all they add to the game right now is that people look for / advertise their guild levels while recruiting. That’s it.

        The sense of working together towards a common goal wears off pretty fast. You just do what you would have been doing anyway. Sometimes you get an additional reward. Meh.

        I figure as guild levels climb higher the guild perks will add an additional dimension to the game in that the perspectives of gaining or losing these perks upon joining a guild or being kicked from a guild will result in more adrenaline. But I am not at all sure this will actually be a “big improvement”. We’ll have to see, of course. Taking into account the well-known qualities of the WoW community, I, quite frankly, think this will be little else than a huge source of drama.

  3. rulez says:

    Heavy use of phasing must be the second biggest screwup right after arenas.

    However that technical aspect aside, while waiting for the collectors edition to arrive, I did all new quests in Kalimdor and must say every zone has now some main epic storyline that feels awesome to play through. This is even more emphasized in all the new 80+ zones, disregarding all the phasing related bugs they dragged from beta to live although reported repeatedly during beta.

    Pre organization also sky rocketed in my experience in the PvE aspect, due to heroic dungeons being 2 steps up from WoTLK. Since release I pugged maybe one and a half 5 mans.
    Raids are nowhere near puggable, especially not via some raid finder, the exception being the boss unlocked in Tol Barad (the new Wintergrasp).

    Even in the PvPvE aspect, Tol Barad needs a bit more organization at this stage than just rushing for a keep and bashing its door down. Although the attacker is definatly at a disadvantage currently, if the defenders have no basic organization they will very likely lose to any half decent lead attacker.

  4. Silvermute says:

    Although phasing can present a few problems for grouping when levelling, I’d say the current crop of 5-man instances have if anything increased the need for player cooperation. The days of running in and AOEing the crap out of everything are gone: groups need to communicate to progress, which has made a very positive contribution to the social aspects of the game in my experience. The rated BGs are having a similar effect, not to mention the guild benefits.

    Don’t get me wrong: if you hated WoW before, you’ll still hate it now. But for those of us who already enjoyed the game, this expansion has been a huge step forward.

  5. Mala says:

    Hilariously, we’ve finally come to the point where kill 10 X quests are looked upon favorably.

    Frankly, I’d prefer their be a lot less questing in general. Less kill 10 x, 8 y, 5z, collecting their stuffs, and moving on to the next hub. I’d like one sort of big hub in the zone, lots of exploring, and if they want to throw in some rewards for killing specific stuff go ahead. The problem with questing is that its really easy for it to become the far and away best method of gaining experience, and that leaves a lot of the “world” stuff feeling superfluous.

    On the topic of Rift, I think their quests really not very good at all. Generic quest hub after generic quest hub is far and away the worst part of the game for me. I get funneled through the zone in the theme park style you seem to hate usually, but are praising in this case. The rifts on the other hand, are an interesting mechanic and I hope they continue to make them better.

  6. boatorious says:

    Took a break from solo play in WoW yesterday (leveling a new char) to do stuff with the guild. We had a group of ten and did old raids together to work on guild achievements/leveling/rewards.

    I’m a perpetual non-social MMO player and I’ve never done anything quite like that before. That reward stuff is all new in Cataclysm. One of the goals of Cataclysm was to make your guild a bigger deal. We’ll see how it plays out, but so far it’s worked for me.

  7. PTD says:

    I for one am glad that Syncaine went through the trouble of reading blogs and such in order to pass judgement on Cataclysm. The days of playing a game before passing judgement are in our past.

    Maybe they have a spot for you at Eurogamer. Hypocritical much?

    • SynCaine says:

      So you don’t disagree with the post. More confirmation, thank you.

      • Mark says:

        Well you could at least reply to the other comments disagreeing with you!

        Honestly I like your posts about Darkfall and other games and wish you would just give up beating up on wow. We know you hate the game and nothing is going to change that!

        Maybe find a new game to hate?

        • SynCaine says:

          Who disagreed that the 1-60 re-vamp is not more solo now than it was pre-Cata?

        • PTD says:

          The point is that you were as up in arms as anyone over the fiasco with Eurogamer and your current “game of choice.”

          http://syncaine.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/the-worlds-most-accurate-darkfall-review/

          Do I really need to point it out to you directly? Are you really so obtuse as to fail to see the connection? At least the guy at Eurogamer played the game for a few hours. You, on the other hand, “talked to various people about it, read a whole lot, and well, I think I get the gist of it.”

          You’re being called on your own BS.

        • SynCaine says:

          So I’ll ask you again, what part was inaccurate? Am I off that Cata 1-60 is now more solo RPG than pre-Cata?

          You can’t seem to answer that, and instead just cling to something I myself stated in the post.

          As for the silly EG comparison, had EG played DF for 10 minutes, but written a review that was factually accurate, no one would have cared.

          Had they played it for a year and written what they wrote, it would have gotten a similar reaction.

          That they lied about the playtime was just a small part of a much larger issue: that they wrote a factually inaccurate review, and then stood behind it when called out.

          So, AGAIN, what part of the post is inaccurate?

        • Sean Boocock says:

          I would grant you that one point but your post encompassed more while singling out the lower level content. Statements like “The ‘WoW killer’ was Blizzard, who moved the game OUT of the MMO space” stretch credulity when on balance Blizzard has done more to encourage the MMO aspects of WoW even as they’ve made questing more cinematic and dynamic.

          I already gave my perspective on the other aspects of Cataclysm but one small quibble I didn’t address in my original post was the LotRO comparison. LotRO launched with highly instanced group based content that was strung together in cohesive narratives. All of the much lauded group, book quests are now soloable. There are still group quests in WoW. There are still dungeon quests that require full groups to complete. There are even, at the high level, new rare open world spawns for teams of players of whatever size to tackle. Maybe something like EQ2 would have been a more apt comparison.

        • PTD says:

          “Cata has greatly pushed WoW towards an online single player game, especially the 1-60 revamp.”

          This is inaccurate. If group content is what you want, you can grind virtually the entire way leveling through instances.

          And as far as questing goes, that has ALWAYS been more focused on solo content, with grouping available but usually not necessary. There’s no “greatly pushed” to it, it’s always been focused that way.

          “Even the group content (BGs, dungeons) is now an anonymous queue-style experience rather than per-organized stuff, and queue up for raids is surely the next step.”

          And here again you show the cluelessness of someone who hasn’t played the game (not in the last 2 expasions, anyway.) It’s not like you can’t organize a group for dungeons the old (hard) way. If you have a group of friends (as I do) and can only usually get 4 online at once, the dungeon finder is a godsend. How exactly is this bad?

          And as pointed out by other replies, the new heroics and raiding content is significantly more difficult, and requires much more skill and planning. Just as it did in Vanilla WoW. Nobody is going to randomly queue up for Blackwing Descent anytime soon.

          Feel free to post your thoughts about Cataclysm, if you bother to play it. But I’m not going to spout drivel about Darkfall based on “what I’ve read.” Regardless of whether or not your attitude towards DF has made me hate it without even playing. ;)

        • SynCaine says:

          @Sean: The parts you quote are opinions. In my opinion, WoW is now less of an MMO than it was pre-Cata, especially for all those who play it mostly solo (IE: not in an active guild, which I believe is a significant portion of the WoW player base).

          Can you still do MMO-like stuff in the game? Sure. I did not state that they removed all MMO-like content though, did I? And a few others here have commented on what Cata removed as well (PvP servers and phasing being a funny/sad one), stuff I’m not bringing up because, well, I don’t play. My guess is if I did, I’d have a whole lot of ammo here.

          The core though, the thing that most point to first when talking about WoW, is the level game, and I’ve yet to see anyone refute that Cata significantly un-MMO’ed that aspect. The ‘game after the game’ at cap is another story (I’d argue it’s now even more of a queue-lobby than an virtual world post-WotLK/Cata, but that’s another post, and frankly, rather one-sided)

          @PTD: You are reaching so hard it hurts. I’m talking about questing, and you bring up instances in the 1-60 game? I’m talking 2004 WoW, and you are telling me about questing ALWAYS being about soloing? I’m talking BG social structure, and you bring up that you can still max 5 man queue? Oh, and be sure to come back in three months and tell me all about how hard those instances are. Those WotLK instances sure were tough the first month too :)

          Swing and a miss again, but at least this time a little closer and without any EG-related embarrassment.

        • PTD says:

          Funny, I have a leveling group with 3 other friends, and we quest together all the time.

          “In my opinion, WoW is now less of an MMO than it was pre-Cata.”

          That’s your problem. You’re giving an opinion on something you haven’t played. Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to admit how silly a proposition that is.

          “I heard Inception sucks. So therefore my opinion is that Inception sucks.”

        • SynCaine says:

          Do you all have waterproof keyboards to stop the drool buildup, or are you part of an ‘I love facerolls’ club?

          “I heard Inception sucks. So therefore my opinion is that Inception sucks.”

          You see a ton of bad movies then huh? And probably own Superman for the N64.

        • PTD says:

          No, but I’m not going to write a review, or post my “opinions” on something I haven’t experienced. I just wouldn’t say anything about it – which is a philosophy you should have picked up long ago. Though I understand “WoW hate” is what draws a lot of your traffic.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          I love it – people claiming that wow is still _massively_ multiplayer as you still need 5 (Five! That’s amazingly massive! That’s surely more than 4! It’s massively multiplayer, really!) people to do 5 man *instance*. Instance, in a massively multiplayer game.

  8. brannagar says:

    I love what WoW was and I hate what it has become. I agree with almost everything you say in this post Syncaine. It is sad what Blizzard has done to a once great MMO.

    Blizzard has done everything possible to discourage grouping in the open world. By contrast, Trion seems to be doing a lot to encourage it in Rift. Yes, the quests themselves can all be done solo but when a Rift or invasion hits, you better believe everyone looks for a group! I actually just finished a blog post about what I think Trion is trying to accomplish with Rifts. I think Rift might do for open world PvE grouping what Warhammer Online did for open world PvP grouping and that is to make it natural and unforced. People don’t like to group because getting a group together is a pain in the butt, Trion has made it natural, needed and fun.

    You can read the post here if you want: http://horrifticintentions.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/grouping-ok-mr-hartsman-youve-convinced-me/

  9. Keystone Jones says:

    That phasing is such BS. I’m sorry, but I am playing on a PvP server, and if me and the misses want to attack an 85 warlock on our level 83’s then so be it…

    oh but wait, one of us hasn’t done the quest yet, so only ONE of us can actually see the warlock. That. is. stupid.

    I don’t mind phasing for buildings and such, but when I can’t even see another player on the server standing in front of me I might as well be playing Champions Online and joining Barrens #12

    The only reason I still play wow is cause my friends and family play, but if I can’t even do group activities with them such as killing horde then why bother?

    We can’t even queue up for BGs with more than 5 in a group now… how is that fostering “social” activities? Sounds more like a limitation to me…

  10. Derrick says:

    I startedplaying again at cat’s release after leaving in disgust early in WotLK.

    You need to separate the two games in Warcraft – leveling and endgame. They are, and have Bren since the very beginning of vanilla, completely different games.

    Group play, unless you had a static group all the way through, has NEVER been very fun in the leveling game. The vast power differences in the level based combat math has seen tothat from the get go – unless your groupmates were with a level or so, the higher level player would be doing all the work and the low level player contributing nothing.

    In Cata, static group questing is still absolutely viable (I did it myself) and a LOT more fun as the new quests and zone storylines make things significantly more enjoyable. It *is* a lot more fiddly to join up with someone when you are at different points in the questing, though.

    Now, here’s the thing. Most people who are more interested in the leveling game than the endgame are (and have been) either casual, primarily solo players OR already played in static groups. Gameplay for both of those sets has been enormously improved. While there will be some who loved random PUG’s while leveling who suffer the majority have a much better experience.

    Prefer the endgame? Then who cares about phasing? At that point everyone is in the same phases (they are much better implemented than in WOTLK). The endgame is enormously improved if you’re a more serious player (that is, if you preferred BC raiding/heroics to WotLK ones). Much more challenging, CC and boss strategies are critically important, fights are all more interesting and involved than tank-and-spank.

    Cataclysm has it’s flaws, but it is VASTLY improved over WotLK and BC in virtually every respect if you prefer solo leveling(which nearly all leveling has ended up being historically unless you’ve got a static group); static group leveling; guild-based heroic dungeon running or raids.

    There is a whole lot of gain for only a minor loss: intermittent group leveling requiring some organization instead of being a simple matter of grouping up randomly.

    • Keystone Jones says:

      Derrick, you are assuming that a player at 85 has completed all the quest and therefore phasing won’t matter. You do realize you can hit 85 without never running a single quest?

      I stand by my original argument; that phasing should not affect your vision of other players- specifically on a PvP server…

  11. ScytheNoire says:

    Seems like a lot of WoW-haters, but I think people are wrong. Nothing is more annoying than getting a quest and needing a group and not being able to find a group. It’s what got me out of LotRO real fast, because I couldn’t do any of the content. Dungeons are for groups, and no other MMO makes it as easy to find a dungeon group as WoW does.

    Phasing, and Blizzard focusing more on story, has made the new content that was added the best yet. It’s better than anything I’ve played in any other MMO, by far. There isn’t even a comparison.

    Maybe people should actually play through the content before complaining about it, and especially write a blog about it. Makes you seem really foolish.

  12. Trix says:

    I know many will probably disagree, but I think Blizzard was wrong to invest so heavily into revamping of the old zones. They seriously overestimated the amount of love there is out there for Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. You level an alt or two and all that love (most of which really was nostalgy) fades. And everything is so totally streamlined that the any revamped zone feels mostly dead, only alive in whatever place you have ‘active’ according to your current phase. And sometimes you wish you could go back to the old version of all these lands, because it is that old version you are feeling nostalgic for, but, of course, you can’t do that. So, the revamp of the old zones is already a mixed bag, it does bring some good, but not a lot of it, and it does bring some bad as well.

    The results of spending so many resources on the revamp, however, were catastrophic. There were only 5 new levels, only a couple of new zones and more of same old, same old, instead of something really good. Archeology is cute, but it is cute on the scale of fishing (if even that… coming to think of it, fishing is much more varied, and I like it a lot more, if I had to choose between dropping fishing or dropping archeology from the game, I would drop archeology, no contest). 5 new levels is too little. You max out waaaay too fast, and then the game is back to grinds. The novelty is supposed to be that instead of going straight to grinding heroics, you have to grind normals first. Oh, yeah, how creative and interesting… And new raids are interesting, but, raids always have this problem that there are only three of them tops. Besides, new raids are perhaps more interesting than TOC (almost everything would be), but are they as interesting as Ulduar? Definitely not. Maybe as interesting as Naxx, at best.

    I think what Blizzard should have done is leave the old zones more or less untouched, and use these resources to double or triple the number of new zones, levels and instances, add one or more real new professions, add one or two new cities (why redo Orgrimmar? add a new Horde city instead… same for Stormwind), etc. Or leave the number of new zones and levels as it is now, but add something big that really extends the game. Like, continent-wide skirmishes with armies of NPCs accompanied by players clashing into each other (wild thoughts here).

    Ah, well…

    Cata is a big disappointment. I am sure many who were waiting for Cata will stop playing WoW after quickly exhausting the amount of novelty Cata has to offer.

  13. Trix says:

    And, by the way, a couple of notes on Cata PVP.

    Rated BGs are a failure. You almost never get a game you could call even. You either totally overpower the opposing team or they totally overpower you. Unlike in arena, though, you have to fight your boredom (or desperation) for a good 20 minutes instead of 2 minutes. The cornerstone of the problem is that now, after the initial enthusiasm for rated BGs has passed, the number of playing premades is very low. Because of that, the auto-balancing feature of rating that is working fine in arenas fails to work for rated BGs. You queue, wait, get an underpowered opponent, obliterate them trying not to sleep for 20 minutes, queue again, wait again, get an overpowered opponent, spit your blood for another 20 minutes, queue once more, wait once more, get the same overpowered opponent, spit your blood again, then continue until you hit your underpowered friends, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. It’s pretty sad, and not fun at all. Ah, yeah, did I forget? Rated BGs are won by individual skill, not teamplay. You do have to communicate, but a rudimentary level of communication is enough. So much for cultivating teamwork…

    Balance is like it always was, there were changes, some good, some bad, but things still are in disarray, like they always were. Class balance is nowhere to be seen. If you don’t believe me, look at hunters, who are very good in PVE and utterly broken in PVP. Combo balance is nowhere to be seen as well, several combos prevail over everything else. Life as usual.

    Tol Barad is a trainwreck, this has been discussed on this blog already.

    Ah, right, twink PVP is completely, totally unbalanced, like it always was, so no changes there as well. World PVP was made worse with flying mounts all over old lands and no lucrative high-level zones dedicated to PVP.

    The sum total? New features largely failed (the only good new thing that I can name is sorting out dispels), promises of balance that were made were once again not kept (of course). Old styles of PVP like twink PVP and world PVP got a couple of new nails each into their coffins, new styles of PVP like rated BGs are already near death right after being born. That’s WoW and Cata.

  14. Trix says:

    Finally, here is a good thread touching on many of the issues discussed above on the US forums. The thread has many good posts, but one really stands out, so if you have time to read just one post, read this:

    http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1660221097?page=6#107

    • syncaine says:

      Interesting. Funny part from that thread:

      “The only real change in WOW right now seems to be in the attitude of the people playing it. It’s seems like everyone transformed into douchbags on the day of the release and remained that way. Maybe this is the cataclysm?”

      • Trix says:

        Sorry if I am stating the obvious, as I understand it, this is said as much to express dissatisfaction with the attitude of players as it is to show disappointment with how little has changed since 2004 (yes, I know, big discussion on absolute vs relative amounts). The guy is bitter. As are many others.

  15. bonedead says:

    Well, I’ve been enjoying myself!

  16. TariqOne says:

    As always, Sean Boocock said it all. I have a love/hate relationship with WoW, and have since release, but Cataclysm absolutely knocks it out of the park. I’m happy I resubbed, just to see one of the bolder, more confident moves in the games industry. To take a cash cow like WoW and completely reshape it — most of it for free, mind you — takes guts. And to pull it off, with spectacular artistic and technical polish and flair, is a monumental payoff on a big gamble. To look at Cataclysm in comparison to the Burning Crusade shows just how far they’ve come in confidence and maturity as a games company.

    Yes, WoW sucks. I really believe that, on a host of levels. But with Cataclysm it’s also probably cemented itself as one of the best games ever made. If you don’t want to experience a signal moment in games and MMO development, even out of “journalistic” curiosity, then your loss. You and Keen can wax hyperbolic about Rift for a while, I ‘spose.

    PS: The folks pointing out your hypocrisy in reviewing a game you’ve never played are spot on. You should send Ed Zitron a Hickory Farms gift basket of salami his holiday season, now that you’ve joined him as a junior partner in the Talk-Out-Of-Your-Ass Club. At least he had the guts to stick it out for 9 whole hours in Darkfall.

  17. Opaug says:

    I never cared much about grouping up with others until I was at max level and wanted to raid. To me, that’s the MMO part of it. Getting the guild together and working on a shared goal for months on end. Guild progression should never be about quests in my opinion. Were quests created with a group mindset? Or was it an option for those who were playing solo? Yeah, I could group up from level 10 through level 85 for dungeons and have the “MMO” experience, but that’s an awful grind to consider. I think you miss the point of these phasing quests and the overall apeal it has to the populous. WoW has so many different options available for both solo and group play it’s amazing. The game is incredibly huge now.

  18. Crevex says:

    The game is so past its prime its not even funny. Was awesome back in the day, but its a shadow of its former self. Even calling it an MMO these days is a stretch. One can only wonder what the game would be today if Blizzard had taken the game in another direction, impact open world PVP for example, or unique character advancement. But alas, like most things that cater to the lowest common denominator, it has found a broad audience, and strung them along with the right mix of carrot dangling. You can even ‘accomplish’ something if you only have two hours to play!
    I’m not going to hate on the people that like what WoW offers, to each their own. But please stop telling everyone how WoW is the zenith of MMO gaming. It has not advanced the genre, if anything it has sent it back to the stone age.

  19. [...] think Syncaine said it best with, “if Rift is WoW 2004 with 2011 updates, I’m interested, and I think I’m not alone on [...]

  20. m says:

    I agree with the comment “if Rift is WoW 2004 with 2011 updates, I’m interested, and I think I’m not alone on”

    After playing the beta, i can say that it does feel like wow 2004 with 2011 updates. I am looking forward to the game and what it can bring to mmo’s.

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