Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 11, 2015
 
Interacting with the world of World of Warcraft

Warlords of Draenor is the 5th expansion for World of Warcraft, so a lot of people who aren't playing assume that it is pretty much like the original game and the other 4 expansions. But when playing through the leveling content of Draenor, a subtle but important change is visible: There is far more interaction between you and the world than in the previous 10 years.

Of course that is "far more" compared to not much at all. The world of WoW always had mostly monsters to interact with, and some gathering nodes. Other than that there were very few items you could interact with. Basically if you could click on something, it was part of a quest you had. Apart from a few treasure chests, the world was barren of things you could touch. The quest focus also was very true for monsters. Yes, you could always kill monsters without having a quest for them, but usually there was not much reason to do so. Rare spawn monsters did not necessarily drop anything interesting, and as they had long spawn times, you didn't come across them all that often.

In the new zones of Warlords of Draenor, this has much improved. The most visible aspect (because they show up on your mini-map), are the rare spawn monsters, which now aren't rare at all any more. Compared to previously they now offer more interesting fights, feeling a bit like soloable dungeon bosses. And they drop more interesting loot, plus garrison resources. Cleverly they do so only the first time you kill them, so people don't farm the same spawn repeatedly.

In addition to that there are now lots of hidden treasures, recognizable by a purple glow. Some of them are quite good, offering better quality items than you would get by questing in the same zone. There are also resources, toys, and other interesting fluff items. Which means that today it makes sense to actually look around in the ancient ruin you are exploring for some quest, because by looking you might find some nice extra rewards. On the other hand I must say that some of these treasures are a bit too well hidden. But of course there are addons which show all Draenor treasures, as nothing ever remains hidden or secret in a massively multiplayer game.

While I unlearned all my gathering skills, which have become obsolete in this expansion, I still spend a good amount of time gathering timber. So between rare spawns, treasures, bonus objectives, and timber, there is now quite a lot of extra stuff other than quests to do in the WoW zones. A clear improvement, and one has to wonder why it took them 10 years to get there.

Comments:
But is there more or less interaction with other players than 10 years ago? That was supposed to be the USP for MMOs.
 
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Yeah, I said it before but killing all the elites & rares was easily my favorite addition to WoD. It really helped break up the questing as they are dense enough that virtually every quest now has a "boss" if you want it. Add in all the raids from old expansions and you have a good few months of pretty good quality solo content. BTW, it's also a good idea to kill any new mob type you come across in WoD at least once even if you don't have a quest for it. Lots of quest starters, flavor drops like toys, etc.

@Gerry I thought there was a good bit more interaction compared to prior WoW expansions just from CRZ filling up all the zones. Plus all the elites are multi-tappable now so you wind up killing most of them with 1-2 other people. The WoD raid endgame should also be at its most convenient and flexible for players, not that I was interested in trying.

Still there's not going to be much *meaningful* open world interaction on PVE servers other than racing for nodes and (non-elite) kills at times.
 
Some of this was in Mists throughout the expac --the silver monsters identified on the minimap, for example-- but others were recent inventions. Timeless Isle had a lot of "nodes" disguised as treasure chests and other clickable items. In retrospect, the devs were probably watching to see how people would react to Timeless Isle to incorporate that stuff into Draenor.

 
Hunting for treasures has been a lot of fun on mu first 90->100 run. I loved every bit of it, even if I can't see how anyone could find 99% of the stuff without the addon (which instantly reveals all the trasures/items locations).

World interaction is still extremely limited though. Yes, you can click here and there and yes, it's "better" than 10 years ago. But still... I keep dreaming of a MMO where you can phisically shape/terraform the world in some way and make persistent changes.

UltimaOnline was such a pioneer in that sense (with all its bugs and missed opportunities but hey... it was the early 90's)
 
What I miss is a let's call it continental sense of the place. The areas themselves feel good, I know where I am riding. But to get to connected areas I use flightmasters so often (and switch to desktop while flying) that it feels like seperated continents. Pandaria was much more ONE continent.

I think I wouldn't even know how to ride from my garrison to Southport or Everbloom Wilds.
 
You don't need an addon to show all treasure nodes. You can buy a map for each zone near the archeology vendor once you've completed all the quests in the zone.
 
It's certainly true that this is one way in which WoW has improved a lot since launch. On the other hand, a large part of WoW's success is probably due to the number of things which the developers left out.

For example, the crafting system in WoW has always been fairly rudimentary. Or, there are a lot of reused art assets. In some sense, these are weaknesses of the game.

However, spending less dev time on these features has allowed Blizzard to put more into their core questing gameplay. And I think time has shown that this was the correct decision.

Ultimately, the developers have to choose a limited number of things to work on. Better to focus on content which is repeatable and widely used, rather than content which is used once by a small subset of the population.


 
To be honest, I'd rather hunt for treasures BEFORE finishing all the quests... Or at least while doing them.
 
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