All Roads Return to WoW: The decision

WotLK loading screen.

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.


First round of WoW class changes are up

Level 80 Shaman.Yesterday we got news that Blizzard would start to preview the class changes coming with WoW: Cataclysm. Good to its word, the changes are up on the official forums. So far it’s just Shamans and Warlocks, but it’s something, right?

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.


You want WoW news, you got it

WoW Cataclysm wallpaper.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.

Source: WoW Forums


What happened to WoW?

WoW April wallpaper.The last I heard of World of Warcraft was that it’s losing steam. Blizzard’s juggernaut finally stopped growing and has actually been on the decline. The Cataclysm announcement seemed to spark interest for some a while back but without a hard release date, it’s tough to keep ex-WoW players’ interest.

I was thinking today about my former days as a WoW player and I realized I haven’t heard a single thing about the actual game in at least a year. I fired up Chrome and made my way to the official site to see what I had been missing. As it turns out, not much.

The first two news stories are about new fan art and a couple new wallpapers. Further down the list you’ve got some news about the CCG and an announcement for a shamelessly branded wireless headset. The only game content story is about new Random Battlegrounds, which from what I can gather is just a way to queue for all the battlegrounds at once for some extra bonuses. It sounds like something that could have been implemented years ago.

It’s pretty tough to revisit WoW without thinking about the game’s eventual demise. At this point Cataclysm seems like a stopgap – just another way to buy time until the next great MMO. The revised leveling system and zones sound cool, but I’m willing to bet people will still burn out when they get to Outland/Northrend. Can you imagine leveling to 80 again? I know I can’t.


Activision gets almost 70% of its revenue from three franchises

Tauren dance, baby.Activision’s fiscal report for 2009 contained some seriously juicy news. First, there’s the scandal at Infinity Ward. Second, there’s this. The report included statistics regarding the company’s revenue sources, revealing that a large majority, like 68%, come from just three franchises: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero. The report also noted that WoW accounts for a whopping 98% of Blizzard’s revenue.

The obvious concern is for one of those franchises to flop. One bad Call of Duty and suddenly Activision doesn’t look so stable. As the company puts things, “Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.” I would say so, fellas.

We already know that rhythm games are on the decline and WoW hasn’t grown in more than a year. No wonder Blizzard’s trying to push Starcraft 2 out the door by mid-year.

Source: Kotaku


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