New, or just Improved?February 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
Tags: cataclysm, expansions, game design, World of Warcraft
I was recently having a ponder, and my mind wandered to Cataclysm.
Now, one of the reasons that I stopped playing World of Warcraft was that a short while before Blizzard announced Cataclysm, most of my play was levelling alts. Shaman Herewerd had stopped raiding for documented reasons, and apart from the odd bit of herb and ore farming, he’d stopped running about the place in favour of some alts.
Then Blizzard goes and ruins everything by telling me that Azeroth is doomed! Doomed! And that after the Cataclysm, things will be Different.
If I had stayed, I might well have levelled all my little alts to the point where they’d miss out on the shiny new expansion. Bah humbug to that! One cancelled subscription later, and I now have a raft of characters at varying levels waiting for the ground to shake, for the heavens to fall, and for cats to start living in harmony with dogs before going back and getting some extreme levelling in.
Will anyone miss old Azeroth? I won’t. There’s already a few zones I wouldn’t bother going to. I’ve always hated Azshara, and thinking about Ashenvale makes me make angry faces. The Thousand Peaks is more like The Thousand Annoyances, and as for Ferelas? Yech! I know plenty who wouldn’t go to Desolace if they were paid (although, freak that I am I quite like the place), and I’d be more than happy to trade the few zones that I really enjoyed for a new set of zones if it also meant getting rid of loads of zones I really can’t get enthused about.
It’s a smart idea, it really is.
What we’re getting is a new levelling experience, instead of the boring old one. Of course, Blizzard will be hoping that everyone will start at least one new alt, and go levelling through the new Azeroth. After all, there’s no new balancing, no new skills, no new number-juggling that a new batch of levels would need.
Ooh! Flying mounts can finally appear in Azeroth. Redrawing zones to be seen (and interacted with) from the air is one thing, but creating zones from scratch to allow for flyers is completely different. And possible to do without creating all manner of attendant bugs and glitches.
Personally, I’m hoping they also take a long hard look at The Burning Crusade, and see about improving that place as well. Yes, I really disliked the way that the zones in Outland looked like they’d been Jackson Pollack’d onto a continent map. I appreciated that Outland was a destroyed world, but please? Can we have some sort of cohesion in look and style?
Ahem. Matter in hand. So… Many talking heads keep wondering which game will be the WoW-killer. Well, not that one is needed, but it looks like World of Warcraft is taking a swing at itself with Cataclysm. Why?
Well, what do you get when you buy a new game? You get the opportunity to create a new character, and level them up from 1st level to maximum level. What do we get with Cataclysm?
We get a bunch of revised levelling zones, with an opportunity to create a new character, and level them up. But even better than for a new game, Blizzard get to use the existing World of Warcraft, its engine, its visual style, its races and classes, and create World of Warcraft 2. It will be like playing a brand new game, only you’ll also get the comfort of having your existing level 80s, and hanging out in Northrend for when you fancy a bit of uber-leet-death-raiding. Or whatever.
Sheer, utter genius.
I do have one little query, though. What’s going to happen to all those people who decide that they don’t want Cataclysm? Are they going to be stuck in the (current) Old Azeroth (or even worse, frozen out of the game entirely)? And if they aren’t, if they get access to the New and Improved Azeroth (or should that be: “Son of Azeroth!”), then what exactly are we paying for?
The only time previous to this that I can think of, where a game tried to completely revise itself rather than add on to existing content, was Star Wars Galaxies. And we all know how bad that was…
Good luck, Blizzard.