Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Cataclysm improves World of Warcraft
This being the internet, discussion is frequently held by extreme simplification, and wilful misrepresentation. Thus when I said "MMORPGs have become better over the last decade", I got responses accusing me of wanting only Farmville-like games. That couldn't be further from the truth. So to illustrate my point, I'm telling you that while I did find that Wrath of the Lich King made World of Warcraft better than it was under Burning Crusade, I also have a strong impression from previews that Cataclysm also will make World of Warcraft a better game. And that is BY making WoW a bit harder again.
I totally agree that WotLK made World of Warcraft easier, and in some cases overdid it, like allowing people to skip most of the raid content and moving directly from heroics to Icecrown. But that is how balancing works: Nobody knows where the exact sweet spot is, and any changes risk either not going far enough, or overshooting the target. But if some change goes to far, the next change swings the pendulum back. The overall effect is continuous improvement, in spite of no game ever being perfectly balanced.
Cataclysm is offering some features I've been asking for for years: A slow increase of difficulty with level, instead of having the same easy solo mode up to the level cap and then a huge gap from there to the end game content. I am also looking forward to Cataclysm again making your skill in playing your character class well, especially for healers, more important than your jump & run platformer skills. I want to play a MMORPG, not Super Mario. And I do welcome the return of crowd control instead of simple AoEing everything down.
Having said that, I would say that Cataclysm clearly proves my point that World of Warcraft is continuously improving, and NOT always in the direction of making the game easier. Sometimes to achieve better balance developers must make a game easier, sometimes they must make it harder. I acknowledge that effort, not only of Blizzard, but of all the other developers out there as well.
The kind of rant I am complaining about is from those who make extreme, and untrue extrapolations. Just have one serious look at World of Warcraft and at Farmville and tell me whether these "are the same", as the deranged ranters claim. World of Warcraft, even today, at maybe its easiest point in history, still is an extremely complicated game. Just look at the gigabytes of databases and thousands of addons players have created to deal with that complexity. Those not only prove that WoW is a complex game, but that it is PLAYERS who strive to make the game easier, you can't just blame Blizzard for everything.
I am absolutely certain that most of those currently complaining about World of Warcraft being "as easy as Farmville" will nevertheless play Cataclysm, and like it for a year or so. And then they burn out again, and will again loudly complain what a shit game World of Warcraft is. Thus my comment that those rants only tell you something about the state of mind of the ranter, and nothing about the quality of World of Warcraft, or any other game.