Two and a half years ago I wrote up a list of grievances against World of Warcraft. Now the world has been re-worked for the Cataclysm, so I thought I’d revisit that list and see how things have changed.
1. Low drop rates for quest items
Drop rates are now usually at 80% or better. Of course, this is possible mostly due to the fact that they’ve sped up the leveling curve. Blizzard doesn’t need you to kill 200 Murlocs to get from level 10 to 11, so when a quest giver asks you to bring him 20 Murloc heads, you don’t need to worry that 90% of the Murlocs in the world will be inexplicably headless when you loot them.
Conclusion: Fixed. And thank you.
2. Quest Locations are Vague
You know, when I returned to the game this year I went and downloaded the popular Quest Helper plugin. I was never a huge fan of Quest Helper. It does a lot of hand-holding and routing, which is overkill for my needs. But I considered the game to be unplayable without it, because so much time was spent wandering aimlessly, trying to figure out where the heck I was supposed to be going. Then someone pointed out the built-in quest guide system, which had been added while I was away from the game and which I somehow hadn’t even noticed.
I turned off Quest Helper and there it was: The perfect quest guide system. It gives you specific enough map markers that you don’t run the risk of wildly misunderstanding the directions. It shows you which monsters you’re supposed to be killing. But it doesn’t do more than that.
Conclusion: I call this one fixed.
3. Bag space is outrageously limited
This also includes #4, “The Needless proliferation of ingredients”, and #5, “The Needless proliferation of food types”. These three are generally the same complaint, and they’re pretty much fixed. The game is a little more generous with bag space at the start, so new players won’t be fumbling around at level 20 with a bunch of four and six slot bags. (And Hunters no longer have to waste a bag on ammo.)
On the other end, most recipes require just one or two ingredients, which removes the nightmare you’d get in Westfall where you’d have a whole sack full of animal parts but you wouldn’t be able to cook a single thing. Cooking is still costly in bag space, but it no longer requires that you have a bunch of large expensive bags at level 15.
In general, bag space feels just right. If you’re a new player without financial support, you should be able to maintain a couple of primary professions and still have just enough space for questing and a bit of cooking. And if you’ve got financial support (like, an established player can mail you a bunch of gold) then you can have enough space for all of your professions.
6. Arbitrary Level restrictions
This wasn’t so much a dig at WoW as a dig at online games in general, and probably should have been left off the list of WoW-specific nitpicks. I don’t think much has changed. In truth, fixing this would require re-thinking how items work in online games. Although, the milk one still bothers me.
Conclusion: Not fixed. Not that I was expecting it.
7. The realtime day / night cycle
Days are still 24 hours long, and it’s still boring. This is particularly silly since the player base follows a very predictable cycle. So the vast majority of players all see the world at the same time of day, every day. If you just play for an hour or two each night, then you might only see evening and never night, or day, or dawn.
I’m a fan of the two or three hour cycle of Lord of the Rings Online. A single session would let to see a bit of variety.
Conclusion: Not fixed.
8. Respawning monsters
Hmmm. I’m not sure how I should rate this one. It seems to be better nearly everywhere, except for a few spots where it’s far worse. One day (and this might have been during the beta) I had Kobolds appearing right on top of me and ganking me constantly, almost as fast as I could kill them. (And of course I was playing a squishy character.) But in general this has been very rare, far more rare now than when I played two years ago.
Conclusion: Fixed? I guess?
9. Heavy Drinking Mages
This is fixed, I think. It’s certainly far less severe now. I don’t have any mages past their teens, so I can’t say for certain, but the days of having to sit and drink after every fight at level 12 are gone.
(I hated this. Veteran players would justify the drinking by pointing out that at level 50, mages could run around and nuke stuff to death instantly, so the drinking was there to slow them down to function more or less like the other classes. Fine, fine. But why am I being made to drink at level 12!?!?!)
10. Wandering Elites are Asinine
Not fixed, and as asinine as ever. This weekend I finally made it to Outland. Took a quest. Rode out to where the monsters were. Looked around so I knew where all the foes were and where I should stand. About six minutes into the job I suddenly died without warning. Then a foot the size of a house filled my view. A wandering elite the size of Godzilla had “snuck” up on me. It was level ?? to me, which means it was far, far above every other creature in the area. This is actually a lot worse than the elites I’ve run into elsewhere in the game, where they were only a few levels above the local monster population.
This is stupid. I wasn’t even aware that such a monster existed. I hadn’t seen it on the flight in. It was just a pointless death. For the purposes of gameplay, it has about the same effect as having the game crash to desktop and needing to restart: I’m done playing for a couple of minutes until I can get going again. Whee.
Blizzard could have saved themselves the effort and replaced that monster with something else just as exciting and tension-building: Once an hour, I have a 1 in 40 chance of dropping dead from a heart attack.
Conclusion: Die in a fire.
11. Resurrection Sickness Sucks
Still lame, although I encounter it less now because I know the game better.
The other day I was exploring and filling in the map when I was jumped by a level ?? guard. (Just outside the Blood Elf city.) Tried to run. Went the wrong way. Got caught on some scenery and he one-shotted me to death. My bad. It’s a hazard that comes with exploring unfamiliar areas in enemy territory.
Unfortunately, my body was too far into the town for me to respawn outside. Had no choice but to resurrect. I didn’t dare explore with all my stats reduced by 75%, and I was nearly done exploring this zone, so I went AFK until the sickness passed.
So, pretty good gameplay mechanic there. The “go AFK for a bit” feature. I still don’t see what it adds to the game, other than to make corpse-camping more fun for bullies on PvP servers. I understand that online games have always had severe punishments for death, and that the penalty in WoW is fairly gentle in comparison, but I still don’t see the point of it.
Although, this was only my second bout of resurrection since I returned to the game earlier this year. So I run into this less.
And now I want to add a new nitpick to the list:
12. Travel from the Outlands Sucks
Since Cataclysm, they removed all of the fast-travel portals in Outlands. You know, just in time for me to reach that point in the game. If you’re in Shattrath City and you suddenly need to go to (say) Dalaran, then you need to take a long Gryphon flight to the dark portal. Then go through the portal loading screen. Then hike from the portal to Nethergarde Keep. Then take a really long gryphon flight to Stormwind. Then hike from one side of Stormwind to the other. Then wait for the boat. Then ride the boat through the loading screen. Then a (very short) walk into the city.
Yes, yes, I’m sure it was way worse in the past when you didn’t get your mount until level a hundred and you had to hike uphill through waves of epic mobs just to see your class trainer. But this is still a slog. It’s a lot of time, and since you keep changing modes of travel you can’t just begin a gryphon flight and go AFK. I understand if having portals to everywhere else in the game was perhaps too good, but this feels like an over-correction. At the very least, they should have added a gryphon at the Dark Portal, to save us the hike to the keep. And add an auction house to Shattrath. Crimey.
So, that’s seven of my original eleven nitpicks that have been fixed. Pretty good. The game is more fun than ever, and it’s holding my interest longer. Last time I got sick of the game and gave up in my mid-30’s. This time I’ve got a level 60, a level 28, and a smattering of teens. Still going, still not sick of it. The faster leveling curve is what is making the big difference.
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