Back in January 2007 an old friend of mine introduced me to World of Warcraft. I recall with relish, his excitement over the release of the first Expansion: the Burning Crusade. So I signed up for a trial and by summer was a hard-core WOW addict. At times it took over my every free moment, at others it was simply something to pass the time. But one thing I am sure of is that the game today, is so different from the one I was introduced to. I would also say the excitement and the buzz has dwindled with the subscribers. Once there was a true sense of community and of friendship within WOW, now though, it is nothing more than a endless supply of requests “join this raid” “help me with this boss.”
Somewhere along the way, the game I thoroughly enjoyed has been watered down, the challenges I used to have to enlist help with, now lay abandoned as most people race to level 90 and the “end content” of the latest expansion: Mist’s of Pandaria. While all this is happening the cities lay empty. Once it was havoc walking through any city. There was life, and players en-mass. Zones were full of players and you seldom passed a moment without an angry Alliance or Horde player trying to snuff your lights out. Frustrating as that may have been, it was also fun. Now the only thing missing is the literal tumble weed rolling down the slopes. Don’t get me wrong, Blizzard have changed some things with the starter levels. They have tried to pique interest. But I think the truth is, they left it too long. Nearly all of the changes made are aimed at end content. The lore has moved on, but the NPC’s and their quests have not. There is no sense of growth, and no reward for effort unless you want the endless monotony of the battleground.
I wonder also, whether the writers and brain of WOW have shot themselves in the foot. There is little stability within the horde and they do play on this.. the rebellion against Thrall’s replacement was a step in the right direction, but does it go far enough? Again it is end content, rather than a feature to set the difficulty by the level of the character (which surely would be better?) There has been tension between the individual races and yet, they have not utilised the quests to follow suit. When you play now, you can gleam a great deal of backstory regarding Sylvanus Windrunner: the Banshee queen and the Forsaken’s war with Gilneas. But once you get beyond Cataclysm’s reworked zones, the lore ends. As a player there is nothing to pull any investment. No central story to follow if you wish. You can’t invest your time in your character, developing reputation with a faction or a race and get any reward from it. I find when I play WOW I grow bored of the “go kill 5 beast” repetitive quests. I ponder whether there would be a way to revamp wow and revive it’s long gone members. To me though I suppose the issue is that blizzard seem only concerned with the skin deep approach. There is little or no moves to engage and draw you in, to teach you about the world. Events that happen are merely there for the idle amusement and yet all over there are hints of where a great wealth of world building and backdrop has been developed but not shared.
The Sin’dorei or Blood elves are allied to the horde only due to their betrayal by the Alliance. There is a great deal invested in them gaining the powers they once possessed, but beyond the Ghostlands and the odd instance there is little mention of the them in the world at large. Any horde settlement you find tend to be Orgrimmar in design, with the occasional Troll or Tauren. The only sign of the forsaken are within Lordearon and even then it’s very little. The quest lines all hint at the blood elves embracing the other horde members only through necessity but there is little more than the mention and no true development. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of good within the game. But you have to wonder, do we really need the gimmicky pet trainer / battle feature? Or could you spend some time actually developing depth?
Another thing, one might consider about Wow is whether it is time for a complete update. Stand it against the other MMORGS out there and visually the only ones that are like it are free and seldom used. When you compare it against Final Fantasy Online or Lord of the rings, you have to consider why you’re paying £8.99 a month to play something that is just short of twenty years out of date. I mean, the game is not about being pretty, but you at least want to see the cool vibe. The only way of achieving that with wow is closing your eyes and imagining it. There is little versatility on what your character looks like and even then, the painstaking choices are slim. Oh you change your characters hairstyle and colour – but why bother? It never zooms in enough to see it anyway. One line of thought is that perhaps, after all these years, it is finally time for blizzard to do a complete game update graphically and content-wise. Bring the game into 2013 and add some decent quest / story lines to get interest. You don’t even need to close the old version, just invest in a more up-to-date and detailed rendition. I would never advocate the complete destruction of WOW, it has far too much potential. But leaving it as it is, it will slowly but surely die and eventually, not even expansions will be enough to save it.
I have fond memories of WOW and a keen interest in its lore and world, but the game fails to deliver and so I grow weary of its half baked implementation. Perhaps it is just time for me to hang up my wow cap and move on.