Written by | Posted November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm Deconstruction

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

filed under Feature, Hunter, Roleplay
The Chosen One and Single Player MMOs?
comment 13 Written by on March 11, 2011 – 10:27 am

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*

annas

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13 Responses to “The Chosen One and Single Player MMOs?”

  1. Anna,
    Loved the post here. Questing can be a fun experience when you are running the whole epic hero thing. I know alot of people burn through it, burn through raid content and then…….nothing. One of the things I’ve admired many RPers for is to be able to create thier own existence without the storyline, but with enough lore structure to feel included without over bearing the core of the lore. Linear storylines once completed have little value. I suppose I tend to shy from them and keep my Az an open sandbox lol. But keep on keepin on! I enjoy your articles and hope to see more!

  2. First off, welcome back!

    There definitely is a focus on being Big Damn Heroes this time around. Interestingly, a lot of this echoes the Life Quest stuff vanilla was originally going to have, but which was shelved for all the reasons you outline above. Go figure.

    I’m planning on dividing up the world between my alts. While Ringo will do it all — although only some of it “in canon,” because, who really gives a crap about Elf Mountain getting burned up? — my paladin and mages will each only take nibbles. The tankadin might just level through the random dungeon tool.

  3. I think this is an interesting insight, thanks for articulating it. I do agree that I’m feeling very little desire to re-do zones and quests in Cataclysm, and I don’t fully understand why. One reason could be that there is no flexibility within a zone – you either skip a zone’s quests, or you do all of its quests, but you cannot skip quests. But yes, perhaps another reason is that you are much more “done” with a zone, when you finish one of the new questlines.

    By Jacob on Mar 11, 2011 | Reply
  4. @Jacob – I think the lack of flexibility is directly related to the “done-ness” – you’re there to do a Big Epic Thing, not to help out in various ways and then move on. So instead of being able to, say, hunt for Nesingwary but skip the bits about the Pirates in Stranglethorn (because your character likes hunting and hates pirates), you’re forced into a linear mode that relies on doing EVERYTHING. Which then culminates in the Big Epic Thing at the end, and poof you’re done. The big epic goal at the end kind of defines the linear questing. Basically, it all comes down to reducing character options and forcing one (totally epic, all inclusive) story on every character.

    As a roleplayer, I can incorporate certain quest zones into various characters, but it doesn’t make sense for others, and I can’t skip areas (or zones, really), making the game much more limited and cutting down a lot on replay value.

  5. @Mhorgrim – I’m not quite sure what you’re saying, but I think I get the idea. For a lot of RPers though, we use both the lore AND the stories created. For instance – it’s totally possible to be part of something without being THE HERO in most of the earlier incarnations of the game. Now though, everyone is a Big Damn Hero (thanks Ringo :D ), and that doesn’t mesh well with every kind of RP. So you’re actively changing the story to fit your RP after you’ve done it… which cuts down a lot on world immersion.

    Plus, at least in my circle of friends, we RP, quest, instance, and raid all from at least an in character perspective, if not truly in character. Taking away chunks of that really cuts down in inspiration, as the stories are no longer open ended. You’ve FINISHED something. It’s not ongoing, or something you’re helping out with, or something you’ve decided is full of shit and not worth your time. Once you start the quests, it’s either finish the whole zone, or go elsewhere, and there’s not really a lot of elsewheres left.

  6. (Also, to everyone commenting, since I’ve not posted in … uh … awhile, it might need me to approve your comments. I’m working the late shift tonight, so some comments may sit in moderation for awhile before I get home. I’ll do my best to get on top of things, but I promise, I’m paying attention and your comments aren’t spam.

    Unless you’re trying to sell me pharmaceuticals. Then you’re spam.)

  7. Going back to Hyjal for bouncing baby bears off trampolines is probably worth it.

    WHY IS THAT NOT A DAILY???

    I have every desire to go through the story once, now, and no desire to go through it a second time. This isn’t actually very different than how I experienced Wrath, to be honest, but I didn’t have alts who I could have leveled through the different zones.

    My DK is currently leveling through mining. My Druid is leveling by tanking instances, my Priest by healing them, my Mage through PvP, and I really with the AH would start giving out XP soon so my Rouge could get her Enchanting up a bit.

    There is a Warrior who is out, questing through Ashenvale, though… That gives me hope. But I massively outleveled Darkshore and skipped the second half – and this was without heirlooms.

    Is it Cataclysm which is causing me to do this? Or is this just how I play?

    It’s a good question, and one I can’t really answer.

    Good, insightful article, Anna. I liked it.

  8. @ Anna (but I think I get the idea. For a lot of RPers though, we use both the lore AND the stories created. For instance – it’s totally possible to be part of something without being THE HERO in most of the earlier incarnations of the game. Now though, everyone is a Big Damn Hero (thanks Ringo ), and that doesn’t mesh well with every kind of RP. So you’re actively changing the story to fit your RP after you’ve done it… which cuts down a lot on world immersion.)

    you actually hit it pretty much on the nail. I do sometimes ramble so my apologies lol. What I try to convey is there is nothing wrong with storyline quest content. This is good. But there needs to also be what is termed as open sand box, ie the world is yours to play in the way you want. This allows a framework while not being shackled.

    I also find that some of the best RP I’ve ran across in WoW has been that where it isnt the BDH syndrome, but just people getting by. I was working with a horde crew for awhile that did absolutely amazing things on an improv level. It was some of the most fun I ever had, even though I was a lowly peon level orc lol. While it maintained lore, it didnt constrict us into a preset god hero linear storyline.

    If I confused you more, my apologies hope this sort of cleared things up :)

  9. I guess I’m the oddball here, because I like re-doing the storylines, especially Hyjal. (Best new zone in Cata imo :D ) But then, I also like reading favorite books and/or watching favorite movies over and over, so the repetativeness(sp?) doesn’t bother me. I love the storylines so much, it makes me glad I have so many alts, so I get to see Hyjal turning green again more than once. And every time I go through a quest chain, I notice new potentially awesome things.

    Although, I have to admit I’m taking a (short) WoW break to try Rift out. Which is another game with awesome quest lines that I love repeating, but it is another ‘you’re the hero, come save us’ type of storyline, so it might be different for different people. /shrug
    (And now I’m gonna be late for work. /ZOOM!)

  10. I think this is why I’m doing so much alting right now- I’ve run through the content with both Lark and Pitch, so there really isn’t much more to see (except I really ought to finish Uldum and Twilight Highlands one of these days… >_>). I’ve taken a different tack with Shaurria, RP-wise – while I’ve been through the zones and done the quests, she’s been ICly spending her time there with Alanon, seeing the sights and meeting the Ancients and stuff. Because after all, Hyjal has already been saved, so why would she need to go through the quests ICly, you know?

    On a somewhat related note, the dungeon-finder has been a godsend. Instancing instead of questing is a welcome alternative.

    @ Cynwise- regarding the warrior-leveling… I’ve noticed the same thing on my baby toons, even the ones without heirlooms. Each time I start a zone, I’ll get to maybe the second quest hub and then realize all the quests are green, when they were yellow when I first started. Example: Rheugan started on Felwood around 48, and between the quests he started on there and doing the cooking/fishing dailies religiously, he’s now 52 and everything’s gone green. I want him to finish the zone, but I’m wondering if it’ll be grey by the time I’m done. O_o

    @ Sis- I do also enjoy going through some of the quest chains over again, but the fact that I /have/ to do some quests that I didn’t really like to get to the ones I do (the linear questing that everyone’s mentioned) kinda takes some of the fun out of it.

    @ Anna- if you get bored with all the soloing, Shaur is 83 now too. >_>

  11. I’ve also started to wonder about the replay value of the high level zones. Pre 60 zones at least give the option of taking different routes and staying on one continent that makes the journey different (with heirloom gear, xp from nodes and guild xp bonuses you can get to 60 with only half of Azeroth content), but you can’t really skip zones in Cata level since there are only 5 of em and only the two starter zones having overlapping levels.

    There’s a few quests around that give you the option of different solutions to the same problem, e.g. helping a fallen enemy soldier up and letting him go or killing him off. But the biggest problem with the current Chosen One syndrom in WoW is that very few quests give truly different options on how to solve them. “Real” single player RPGs give choices on how to deal with something: do I try to sweet talk my way out, try to bluff, or just hack or blast my way through? That gives replay value even if the Chosen One’s story is the same, because it gives a different feel for each character even if they are the same class. There’s a handful of quests in the new version of WoW that gives a little choice, but the five that pop up in my head are nothing compared to the thousand+ quests we have.

    I can’t shake the feeling of my alts becoming Alternate Universe characters instead of a group of people who have banded together to make their mark on the world. I loved the old quest-line in Redridge where the mayor sent you out to get help from the different neighbouring areas and him getting more and more desperate as he realised he was stuck with that newbie adventurer running mail for him. In Outlands and Northrend you were no longer the newbie and sometimes you were acnowledged as a Hero of the Realm, but you were still part of an army. Now you are hailed as the One Big Saviour, and never mind the other One Big Saviour standing right next to you handing in the same quest.

    It all makes things harder for roleplayers, players who like to work as teams, and altoholics alike. The quests themselves seem to be designed to make their replay value better (I really dreaded making another alt before Cata), but the One Big Saviour syndrom works against it. I find that real sad because the new areas are truly beautiful in both looks and quest design in general.

    By Tsani on Mar 13, 2011 | Reply
  12. I definitely have felt a lot more of the Big Damn Hero syndrome since Cataclysm hit. I think for me the most glaring example was in Deepholm — Therazane and her forces tell the members of the Earthen Ring, who are totally devoted to maintaining elemental balance, to basically GTFO of her domain as soon as they’re done rebuilding the World Pillar, but my deeply stupid little undead warrior, who has no understanding of the elements whatsoever and pretty much just hacks at things with a giant axe, is welcome to stay? It rather strained my suspension of disbelief, to say the least.

    For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the quests, and I’m looking forward to doing some of the zones again, but I have felt more like I’m watching a movie rather than inhabiting my character. The numerous cut scenes and a few quests where you really don’t do anything but watch things happen amplify this feeling, as does the overall linear nature of the plot lines. RP-wise, I feel like my character was there and involved with what was going on, but what actually plays out in the quests is not what she was actually doing. (This is also how I felt about the goblin starting zone; my little goblin was most assuredly not a business executive!)

    So I’ve been treating it like I used to treat dungeons and raids – making up my own story as to how my character’s minor role in the storyline fits into the larger picture, and avoiding any sort of claim of major heroism. I don’t really mind it too much, because my RP has never been tied too closely with PvE content; I’ve always picked and chosen which quests my character “really did.” (It’s not like every single one of my characters from Classic was dumb enough to fall for Abercrombie’s scheming!)

    Still, I do wish there was a little more flexibility and a little less of a linear feel to the questing, because doing the exact same thing in the exact same order will probably get old by my fourth or fifth character.

    By Corise on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply
  13. I definitely agree with the sentiment of this post. I’m working my fourth character to 85 and while the linear quest lines in the zones were fun on my main, they definitely lost their gleam on my 2nd, 3rd and now 4th run through. I mean, some of the quests are just fun – Dwarven wedding, anyone? — and some of them make sense for each of my characters, but it all feels like I’m running through a set script YET AGAIN. It’s a pity since the zones are so beautiful and full of life. Non-linear gameplay is one of the reasons I play MMO’s over single-player games (although games with excellent stories do get me to run through them at least once).

    Also, from an RP stand-point, NONE of my characters are heroes or really have any desire to be. It feels extremely odd to have someone pointing at my little shaman and saying ‘CHOSEN ONE!’. I half imagine her cowering and running away to go fish.

    By Rhianon on Apr 13, 2011 | Reply

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