So I’m rather tentatively back in WoW right now, leveling my hunter and really having a good time exploring the new zones. But at the same time, several people that were part of my “greater WoW community” have left the game – either for other games or for other pursuits.
I’ve resorted back to my old playstyle, which is very single player oriented – something you can do easily as a hunter – and there’s something about Cataclysm that’s niggling at my brain.There has been a greater trend – starting definitely in Wrath, but a little in BC too – towards a differently constructed world.
Here’s what I mean:
In the old Vanilla WoW zones, you did typical adventurer quests, encountering various groups and cultures who needed help. Occasionally you did a Big Important Thing, but most of your helping was as a subordinate to the leaders of those cultures. When you were in Eastern Plaguelands, you helped the Argent Dawn. The leaders of the Dawn directed your quests, and though you knocked out some big bads, by and large your questing there was as a helper to that group. Same with Desolace, Winterspring, and Stranglethorn. Even Burning Steppes had a presence that made you feel like you were “joining up” with an established group and pitching in your hand.
(I’ll mention that during this time reputation was a very different beast, and you didn’t have 14 factions per expansion to gain reputation with either.)
I’ve now completed Vashj’ir, Hyjal, and Deepholm, and in each one I was coming into a situation not as a subordinate helping a greater group but as a savior bailing out an inept group who couldn’t do it without ME.
I was THE CHOSEN ONE. I SAVED THE WORLD. There are PROPHECIES about me. I’ve single-handedly turned the tides of war and bailed out various groups who screwed it up or couldn’t hack it in the first place. And my leveling in the newly redesigned lowbie zones has been similarly flavored. While things are much more streamlined – which is nice (I didn’t really like the great cookie crumb trails all over the world more than anyone else) – there’s a feeling of my little dwarf warlock as Important (with a capitol I).
And that is a very different feeling.
I’ve always been an altoholic. There were various zones of various flavors to go and level and each one could be connected to the character – or skipped if it didn’t make any sense. My hunter did Borean Tundra, because that kind of adventuring makes sense to her, and she spent a long time in Sholazar Basin. Aely did most of her early leveling in Howling Fjord and Dragonblight, and put in a lot of time in Stormpeaks out of fascination with the Keepers.
But that was harder to do in Wrath than it was in Burning Crusade, and harder in BC than it was in the original game. Annie Mae ran her tiny level 1 gnomebutt down to Elwynn Forest, and was a “Southern” Gnome. Those choices are harder now, and it’s much easier to level on one straight path that ends up being THE one path later on.
And now that Angoleth has saved Hyjal, a zone that has a lot of meaning for her, I don’t know that Annie Mae will really make all that much sense there.
Angoleth already saved it. She didn’t help the various groups involved, she actually was THE CHOSEN ONE. So there’s no real motivation for me to take Annie Mae through the zones, with the possible exception of throwing baby bears onto a trampoline. The replay value is different, and the feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself is gone.
Cataclysm has introduced an extremely linear, extremely heroic, personalized leveling scheme that uses “silly” quests as flavor instead of relying on what was, in my opinion, the greatest strength of the early game. The world itself.
And that’s after completing the content up to level 83. Somehow, I don’t expect 84 and 85 to be much different.
I’m starting to think that’s why so many people are “done” with Cataclysm already. They’ve been the savior. They’ve bailed out the Earthen Ring and saved all of Hyjal. So when they go through to play it again, it feels like just a re-play of the same old single player game they’ve done so many times before, instead of feeling like they’re bringing up a new adventuring character who is part of a bigger, more dynamic world.
Which, you might say, is accusing people who don’t RP of being roleplayers. But they do call it a MMORPG for a reason. *wink*
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