Monday, February 05, 2007
How the World of Warcraft has shrunk
We call the Burning Crusade an "expansion", which suggests that the World of Warcraft is bigger now. But that is only true if you just measure the landmass. In actual gameplay I can't help the feeling that the World of Warcraft has shrunk.
A major part of the problem is that after level 60 there is no real reason to go back to the old world again, except for two new dungeons and the class trainers. Most of the travelling I do now is across Outland, a single continent, and one that isn't very elongated. From a central point, like Shattrath, you can get anywhere very quickly. I only go back to Orgrimmar whenever I level up and have to train, but as soon as I hit level 70 I'll only have to go back to the old world if I want to visit the Caverns of Time or Karazhan. There isn't an auction house in Outland, but I simply mail items back and forward to a bank alt, I don't travel back to the old world for the auction house. So while previously my daily travelling spanned two continents, I'm now down to one.
Related to this is the fact that the Burning Crusade shortened travel times. Me, and everybody else (I would think) is now bound in Shattrath. From there every point of the old and new world is very fast to reach, with portals to all other cities and flight paths. Getting to the Caverns of Time yesterday from Zangarmarsh (heartstone to Shattrath, portal to Thunderbluff, flight to Gadgetzan) was faster than it would have been for me before, as I was previously bound in Undercity, and taking the zeppelin from there isn't that fast. And of course for any instance only the two people closest to it actually have to travel, and they can then use the meeting stone to summon the others. At level 70 people will get flying mounts, which could speed up travelling even further in some situations, even if the normal flying mount is slower than a epic ground mount.
The net result of all these "improvements" is that you spend less time travelling, and more time playing. Which in a way is a good thing. But the size of a world as you feel it depends on how long it takes you to cross it. And by that count the World of Warcraft is a lot smaller now than it was before.