I’ve been spending a good bit of my game time playing World of Warcraft and I’ve been enjoying the expansion so far. Yes, it is more of the same, but my favorite class (hunter) has been reworked and feels like he did in early BC when I learned to love him. It’s been good to see Blizzard speed up some of the more tedious aspects of the game, and it’s nice having populated worlds again.
My main focus in the game now is PvP. I did the raiding thing for a while, but I just don’t have those big chunks of time to put toward a single dungeon any more. I want to jump in some BGs, go work on my Archaeology, go bleed some gold from the auction house, and work on my professions in a play session. PvP is a lot more conducive to that. PvP in WoW has always disappointed me a bit. There are just too many different skills to worry about from the different classes, and without thorough study, it can be tough to know what happened to you in a fight. I often find myself looking at the combat log (a feature League of Legends desperately needs) and then googling the various effects to see what the hell they are.
The biggest problem, though, is CC. Crowd Control in WoW is one of the worst active game systems on the market today. It is entirely plausible that you will be unable to control your character for stretches as long as 30 seconds, during which you will most definitely die. Blizzard woefully tries to address this with diminishing returns, but those returns are player specific, so you can get chain-disabled by a group of 2-3 players without them incurring much penalty.
The CC in WoW always brings me back to a simple game design principle: is the anti-fun generated by the mechanic greater than the fun generated by the mechanic. The answer is overwhelmingly yes.
Someone in the thread mentioned that the goal of WoW PvP is to deny your opponent the ability to fight instead of outfighting them. It’s unfortunately true, and again, really not fun for either side. Do I get a sense of accomplishment when I kill a target that doesn’t move and I just shred away for 15 seconds? No. And the guy getting killed is obviously having very little fun. Loss of character control will always be a crap mechanic for the receiving player. The fact that it can last as long as 20-30 seconds (with disables from a couple toons) is just absurd.
To all the people saying the equivalent to “get cleansed bro,” players don’t always have a cleanse nearby, and suggesting they should get one doesn’t at all address the problem. Nerf the CCs, and nerf cleanse with them so it doesn’t get to the point that you can’t lock that warrior down.
A [global diminishing returns system] would be awesome, but I’d also love to see some system where CC breaks when you take some percentage of your health in damage – let’s say 10 percent for the sake of argument. You get stunned, as soon as your health is reduced by 10 percent of it’s max, the CC breaks and you become immune for X amount of time. I say reduced because heals could prolong it – this would hopefully remind people to kill the damn healer. Fights would have so much more back and forth and be infinitely more interesting. It would also rightly encourage people to use CCs against their off-target for spell interrupts. Put that kind of system with a GDR and PvP is instantly more interesting. You’d probably have to move the damage/healing slider a bit, but any change would require some across the board tweaking.
Even though WoW is the rampaging juggernaut of the video game world, it could learn a lot from burgeoning fields, like the MOBA world. I’ll let you know how it feels when I have a couple hundred games under my belt, but for now I feel like I’m either getting disabled to death or doing the disabling. It’s not very often that I’m hitting someone who’s hitting me back.
As of this past weekend, my mind was made up. I was going to skip Cataclysm altogether. I wasn’t going to try it, play it, think about it, nothing. I hadn’t seen anything wild or crazy that would make me want to come back and I was perfectly content with the other games that could fill my free time. I was so convinced.
But lo and behold, I ran some errands today and came home with a copy of the game. It wasn’t really an impulsive decision – I had done a decent bit of research about the expansion so I knew what to expect. I really went for it because, well, why not? I hadn’t been a part of an expansion launch yet. I missed Burning Crusade because I had started playing shortly before it came out. I missed Wrath because I had taken a break and didn’t feel compelled to come back at the time. As someone who writes about games for a living, it seems appropriate that I should see at least one launch.
So far, things have been pretty good. I’m playing a Balance Druid, something I’ve never really messed with before. The new zones are certainly bright and colorful and there is plenty of new content to see. I am pretty disappointed, though, by the lack of time spent in the old world. The whole point of this patch was a shattered Azeroth, a world we used to know being torn apart by this big, evil dragon. So why am I swimming around underwater? Why not send me back to the barrens to do some leveling. The old world place I’ve spent most of time is Orgrimmar, but that’s not really different from previous expansions. I’ve always had to go to Orgrimmar for various things, mostly the Auction House. It’s really cool that it’s been redone, but I want to see more of that in other parts of the world.
For now, that’s my one big criticism. I’ll be playing over the next several days if anyone feels compelled to join in. I play on Archimonde under the name “Milkstout.”
Blizzcon’s coming at the end of the month and should bring all sorts of goodies for World of Warcraft and Diablo III fans. The official schedule of events went up last week, and it’s worth taking a look at.
From what I can tell, there isn’t much about the next Starcraft II expansion. Players have been aching for a new campaign to follow the Wings of Liberty release, and though there’s still a chance we might get something, it’s not looking likely.
Then there’s Diablo III. I’m really having trouble deciding whether or not I’m excited about the game. As much fun as I had with the first two titles in the franchise, I’m still having trouble imagining how the playstyle could translate to a fun game in 2011. The classes sound interesting so far, but at its core, the Diablo series turned into little more than a grindfest, to the point it was easily programmable for bots. I’m hoping the gameplay videos give me enough reason to believe the game can be good.
Of course, there’s also WoW news, which will be all Cataclysm, all conference long. We’ll finally get the new content on December 7th, which means Blizzcon will be showing off all the stuff players will soon be having.
I’ve never understood the collector’s editions for World of Warcraft. I really enjoy the game, but there are so many easily attainable pets (which is the only thing that really entices me out of the feature list) that I can’t really understand dropping the extra cash on it. People spend money on weirder stuff, and I guess there’s enough involved to keep the crazy lore freaks happy.
Here’s what you get:
CATACLYSM EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES DVD:
• Over an hour of developer interviews and commentaries, discussing the game’s development from early design through finished gameplay.
• The Cataclysm intro cinematic and major content patch trailers complete with Director’s Commentary.
• A special Warcraft retrospective examining the rich gaming history of the Warcraft universe.
COLLECTOR’S EDITION SOUNDTRACK:
• Seventeen epic tracks from Cataclysm.
THE ART OF CATACLYSM:
• 176 pages of art, featuring never-before-seen images from the archives of the Blizzard Film Department and the World of Warcraft development team.
• Progressive visuals from every stage of development – from early concepts through to finished, detailed art.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT®: CATACLYSM™ PC/MAC GAME:
• The full World of Warcraft expansion set on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT TRADING CARD GAME STARTER PACKS AND EXCLUSIVE CARDS:
• One 60-card deck from the new Wrathgate series featuring two extended art cards and visuals from several of fantasy’s top creators.
• Two exclusive hero cards, marking the first appearance of goblin and worgen heroes in the WOW:TCG.
• One full-sized rule book to teach you how to play.
EXCLUSIVE IN-GAME PET:
• He may not be a breaker of worlds… at least not yet… but Lil’ Deathwing will still aid you in your titanic struggle to save Azeroth from his much, much larger counterpart.
• A special-edition mouse pad depicting Deathwing menacing the ravaged continents of Azeroth.
As you all know, I play a ton of League of Legends. The game has a lot of what I’m looking for in my ideal gaming experience – complexity, challenge, variety, frequent updates, and on and on. I still find myself craving something different from time to time, though, and most recently I’ve been wanting to play an MMO.
The obvious solution was to resub to WoW – I had played Warcraft at the same immersion level as I played LoL between my 600th and 900th win, which is to say every day, a couple hours a day. But I left WoW for a reason, a lot of them actually, so I did a bit of research and decided to give a couple other games a chance.
A friend from LoL recommended I try Global Agenda, a futuristic dystopian MMO. It’s had some decent reviews and I liked the idea behind a couple of the classes. Unfortunately, the magic wasn’t there. For me to put in the time it takes to learn all the new mechanics and intricacies an MMO brings (I can’t do it casually – moderation just isn’t my strong suit) I need to be hooked and hooked early. Global Agenda couldn’t do that. The first five levels are a scripted intro in which you don’t see any other players. You get dumped into a small city at the end, from which you can queue for battleground-style missions with other players. That’s pretty much it. I know there are a few more options as you level up, but for the most part you end up standing around a city, staring at other characters who, for the most part, look exactly alike. Not worth my $50.
There wasn’t much else out there. I had tried Dungeons and Dragons Online some time back and never really gotten into it. I picked up Age of Conan and Warhammer back when I was falling out of love with WoW and they both just made me go back to Warcraft. Reading over their current news, patches, and forums, I realized they were probably the same drab graphical and mechanical experiences that turned me away in the first place (seriously, can anyone actually tell what is happening in your typical Warhammer fight? Fix your spell animations, Mythic).
There was really only one option left, and it was the first one I had thought up. Go back to WoW. Oh, those dreaded words. It felt almost immediately like I was giving in to a habit I had managed to kick. I felt beaten, my resolve trumped by Blizzard’s finely-tuned skinner box. In truth, though, I had a lot of fun with WoW, and I still have faith that WoW can be an enjoyable game for casuals and hardcore players alike.
With that in mind, I’ll be mixing this column in with the usual League of Legends posts, covering my impressions on a return to WoW after more than a year away from the game (even a year ago I only played for a couple months, returning from a short hiatus). So far it’s been a lot of fun. Stick around to see if that can continue.
The changes seem…good? I don’t know. Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve played either class that it’s tough to say whether the changes are actually decent or if they’re just changes that will be unqualified until they’ve actually been tested. My guess is the latter. This kind of thing usually takes a while to properly iron out, and even then there are periods of underwhelming results for a lot of classes. Remember the sad state of the elemental shaman?How bout the retadin?
Today also brings word that press-only beta opt-in invites are going out. That points to a very close beta date, but the fact that it’s press only means it’s probably a hype ploy. Why give it only to the press if you want real testing? Because they’ll leak things, that’s why. I’m sure Blizzard is well aware of the fact that people have been losing interest and with Bob Kotick at the helm, you can bet everyone at Activision is anxious to keep profits high.
It figures just one day after I write a post wondering what happened to everyone’s favorite MMO, Blizzard decides to unveil some of the major changes coming to each of the game’s ten classes. Oh, except Paladins, but really, who likes Paladins anyway?
Technically, we don’t have the changes just yet. There was a post on the official forums, though, that said we’d get a preview of the new spells, skill changes, talent trees, and other class modifications to be found in Cataclysm within 24 hours. As to the Paladin thing, here’s what Blizzard had to say:
The paladin is still deep in development. Instead of giving a preview that would be potentially less comprehensive than the other classes we made the decision to post it when it’s ready, in order to properly honor the paladin class and those that play them. The wait isn’t too long however as we’re expecting to be able to post it on April 16.
I would never have guessed that “deep in development” meant one week from public consumption, but I’m not a developer now, am I.
This is a big day for the crackheads. It’s the first real news about specific changes in Cataclysm since the expansion was announced.
Today Blizzard’s World of Warcraft turned five. Though not the first game of its kind, it’s certainly the runaway hit of the MMO genre, only likely to be dethroned by Blizzard’s next massively multiplayer project.
The game launched on this same date in 2004, marking the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. Since then it has sold nearly 9 million copies in the US, added two expansions, and has a third on the way. The numbers are mind-blowing, especially when you consider the subscriber base that plunks down as much as $15/month for access to the ever-changing world.
Let’s avoid the “pathetic waste of time/best game evar” debate to simply consider the impact WoW has had on the industry. Pretenders to the MMO throne are usually long dead by five years, and the ones that survive are top-heavy ghost towns where only the zealous continue to play. By contrast, WoW has continued to grow and expand around the globe, attracting attention even from people who could care less about the game. The sheer number of man-hours invested in the game is no doubt staggering, and something I’d really like to see when Blizzard finally shuts down the servers.
So here’s to WoW and all the fun we’ve had in Azeroth. Now, who wants to buy my account?