It struck me yesterday just how much this game has changed, and just how little water it’s detractors hold considering the current iteration. WoW of today is literally nothing like WoW of yesteryear, and most of the reasons many people left – mostly ‘casuals’, but some hardcore too, is gone. Let’s see how.
1: Too much grind. This argument is pretty much null and void. The biggest grind this game faced before was 1-60. Nowadays there are so many ways around that – Recruit a Friend, Heirloom items, Battleground grinding – that it puzzles me when people mention ‘grind’ in WoW, the same people who’ll gleefully farm mountain lions for 13 hours in Aion or bang at rocks for days in Darkfall. Gathering professions have been overhauled, and this struck home with me particularly over the weekend when I levelled mining from 1 to 300 in a handful of days. A feat that, a year or two ago, would have taken me far longer, or at elast have cost me a few thousand gold. The only really ‘grindy’ aspect left to this game is fishing. Rep farming is no longer terribly necessary and there are often substitutes that, while they may not be the absolute best, often approach it. Example – Sons of Hodir rep for shoulder enchant getting you down? Go do Wintergrasp or heroics while your faction controls WG and buy a shoulder enchant for a couple Stone Keeper shards. World of wArcraft today is a game you can spend an hour or two here and there and still progress quite rapidly.
2:It’s too easy. This sentiment probably gets heard mostly from the ex BC raiding vets, of which I am one. I’ll both agree and disagree. The entry level content is jsut that – entry level, and doable by most anyone. Even so, it takes gear to do. And hard and heroic mode raids are easily as hard as anything I’ve encountered in BC, if not more so. Granted, anyone can look pimp in welfare gear now, but you will come to notice the lead that heroic raiders have over us regular folk. A tank running in 45K HP unbuffed? Me in my welfare epics can only dream. There is a wall here, a wall that can only be broken through by hitting the hardest content. And boy is it hard. But there’s still room for epeen measuring, if that’s your thing. Just don’t expect to be carried to the fattest of loots.
3:Requires a guild to get the most out of it. This may be true, but much of the reason for guilds has evaporated. At least for gearing. For the social aspect, guilds are still great. But if you’re not exactly a people person 9why are you playing MMO’s then, exactly?), Blizzards recent Dungeon Finder means you never have to actually join a guild to experience most of the content. For raiding, you may find a guild useful, but more than ever PUG raids are becoming popular, with all but the most recent content being farmed by pickup raids.
4:Need lots of friends. This can be a boon, but smaller 10man raiding guilds are becoming more popular than the larger 25man focused ones. You can still experience all content this way and even pick up some decent loot if you tackle the hard/hc 10man raids. Again, if you can’t scrounge together 9 other buddies, smaller guilds focused on levelling and 5man content can nonetheless experience raid content thanks to the Dungeon Finder tool. There’s always going to be good people looking to raid something that their guild isn’t doing anymore, and that’s where your small guild can benefit.
5. PvP is rubbish. This I’ll agree to somewhat. Balancing around PvP in a PvE game is always going to be a nightmare. But Blizzard have come a long way since vanilla and even BC and while issues might still remain, it’s a far cry from those early days of being oneshot by shamans (vanilla) or fearbombed all day long by warlocks (BC). Just recently, the daily BG quest now grants some arena points. And Wintergrasp remains popular and is a great way at fast-tracking yourself some PvP gear (Wintergrasp Commendations are bar-none the fastest way to accumulate honor). The new BG’s, Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest are very well designed and and interesting change of pace. And of course, Arena remains probably the most popular and renowned form of professional PvP in the entire MMO world.
Yes, the days of open world PvP are over but as a Warhammer veteran I’ve come to realise that maybe Open World PvP isn’t the holy grail we’ve been looking for. I’ve had more fun in Arathi Basin than I’ve ever had in WAR. It’s smooth, fast, fun, strategic and rewarding.
6. It’s ugly/old. This statement is simply false. While the engine is still largely low-poly, the enhancements to it over the year have given us some of the best looking spell effects I’ve seen in an MMO to date. Colours are vivid, sharp, attractive. Recent changes to the shadowing engine make wandering through a forest truly atmospheric. And comparing some of the character models and armour sets of today with those of 2 or 3 years ago, one would think you’re playing a completely different game. This game is still good to look at. It might not be the absolute ebst, but it’s certainly worth thinking about, especially when you compare it to a more recent game like Warhammer Online or even Champions Online and realise that WoW has the better stylization, finer detail, and is simply all-round prettier. Madness, you say? Then you haven’t flown through the Grizzly Hills at dusk and marvelled at how atmospheric the setting is.
7: It’s boring. Well, this remains a subjective point. WoW is essentially Kill Ten Rats refined to nigh perfection. But if you haven’t played WoW since vanilla or BC, and you haven’t experienced events such as the Wrathgate, or even the more recent, storyline-based 5mans (progressing through the Forge of Souls, the Pit of Saron and finally escaping Arthas in the Halls of Relection is an example of real storyline-driven gaming in an MMO – and it is fabulous), then essentially you’re still commenting about the state of this game 2, 3 or more years ago. A lot has changed with the way questing, instancing and raiding works. Looks. Feels. There’s a lot more story, dialogue, plot. And you’re in the middle of it. Effective use of voiceovers and ingame events and cutscenes looks to be the way forward for Blizzard and if WotLK is anything to go by, Cataclysm is going to be awesome.
8: It’s all about raiding. Well, every game needs an endgame, and raiding will always be it in WoW. But more than ever, 5man instances are incredibly popular and if you simply enjoy a good dungeon crawl with 4 mates, there is enough of a game herem to keep you engaged permanently. again the Dungeon Finder rears it’s head, and if not being able to find groups for instances between levels 1 and 79 was getting you down, this new patch will have changed that. People are always levelling alts, and allowing all the realms to pool their resources means an easy, effective and instant way to group together.
9. It’s expensive/not F2P. Well, considering WoW basically defined the current standard subscription rate, I’d contest that. The value for money you get from WoW beats out every contender. And it remaisn the same price. You simply can’t get quality like this with Free To Play titles, and in fact few subscription based competitors are able to provide a worthy cost-to-benefit ratio.
10. Lastly…too much investment. I think most people who shy away from WoW are afraid of it monopolising their time. Yet more and more, the game is becoming accessible to the common man. Housewives, celebrities, pro athletes, grandmothers… they all play WoW. Along side pr and hardcore gamers and casuals alike. Fact is, WoW of 2009 offers such a diverse experience, you can find almost anything to grab your fancy, and there’s always something to do. The gear differential between raiders and casuals, while still notable, is not so great as it once was. And fact remains, if you aren’t a raider and not even really that big into heroics or pvp, there’s enough of a game here to enjoy it casually, simply levelling and enjoying the dungeons on normal difficulty. It’s truly become the anyone can play, and a game with something for everyone.
So, too all you burned out MMO players who’ve been skipping from MMO to MMO and finding nothing engaging, perhaps it’s time you gave WoW another whirl. From the dungeon finder to queue anywhere battlegrounds, from mounts at level 20 to hard mode Algalon. From arena to ganking noobs in STV. WoW has it all.
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