The Evolution of the World of Warcraft

Blog Yama's Blog Posted by Yamaneko on

Many players have said time and time again: “I wish it was still Vanilla WoW”, “I miss BC raiding”, etc. etc. And I question to why are players feeling nostolgic about old WoW? I think for the most part, many players (and possibly even Blizzard themselves) would say Wrath of the Lich King, the Burning Crusade, and Classic World of Warcraft, are all three completely different games.
I haven’t personally raided or even had the game installed during the time of classic World of Warcraft, however, have played and raided during the Burning Crusade.

Changes From Classic World of Warcraft To The Burning Crusade

What was loss from the transition to WoW’s first expansion most obviously is the 40-man raids. From my understanding of blue posts, this was done because of the Naxxramas incident where only .5% of the world saw the content. It was extremely difficult to get 40 players, and of the correct class raid make ups on top of simply getting 40 people together working in synchronization. Blizzard does not wish for their content to go unseen, which is perfectly understandable.

Stat scaling also changed. Blizzard scaled stats so much that a green from a quest in the first starting zone of Burning Crusade, Hellfire Peninsula, replaced the best item from Naxxramas. This mistake was admitted by Blizzard and they did a good job of not repeating that in Wrath of the Lich King.

Removal of battleground titles and the addition of Arena PvP was introduced. This forced diminishing returns on spells used in PvP and due to the lack of rewards from battleground and caused Arena PvP to be viewed as the only true measure of PvP. This was both a blessing and a curse. The positive effects of arenas is that many players enjoyed the 2-on-2, 3-on-3, or 5-on-5 match to the death. The curse of it however is balancing classes due to PvP inadvertingly changing it in PvE. It did not make a huge impact during the Burning Crusade, however, it will come back to haunt the players of Wrath of the Lich King with the release of completely new abilities and a new class.

Increasing gear availability via Badges of Justice (and through Arena PvP), this, like Arena PvP, was both positive and negative. It helped players to return to raiding quicker to jump the content and negative because it de-valued the hard earned gear of those players in the current content. However, the positive clearly outweighed the negative, as the amount of badge gear did not come anywhere close to enabling that person to skip to the end content immediately, i.e. getting all the badge gear available will not give you the ability to perform to what is required for Sunwell Plateau.

Changes From The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King

The removal of attunements was made because Blizzard was unhappy with the amount of players not completing Sunwell. This was a dangerous combination with the previous expansion change of increasing gear availability because it enabled players to skip beginning content and go directly to end content immediately. Naxxramas was labelled by Blizzard as the “Raiding 101″ instance in response to the players why it was so easy to complete, and recently they said that they don’t mind Naxxramas to “have it’s run and be turned into a place for just weekly’s.” I have an issue with this because what instance is supposed to be the “Raiding 101″ instance now? So we now have extremely inexperienced players stepping into ICC and attempting content that is supposedly hard when they really shouldn’t be in there. I find this the biggest mistake Blizzard made with this expansion, since you don’t need to be attuned to Trial of the Crusader to obtain teir 9 gear (Triumph Emblems) nor ICC to obtain teir 10 set pieces (Frost Emblems via dailies).

Stats scaling did occur again, but like I said previously, they did a good (or at least better) job of scaling this time around as I used many of my level 70 gear through Naxxramas.

Death Knights. Hate them, love them, or ignore them; they are to say the least an interesting experiment. I personally did not have a problem with the manner of the implementation of Death Knights (Starting at level 55, own zone, etc.), however the impact of this new class with arenas was horrifying. It took a few seasons but things have calmed down now compared to the start of season 5. So cheers for an experiment that didn’t explode back in Blizzard’s face! :D

Normal Mode and Hard Modes (Not heroic mode). The only instance that had this mechanic was Ulduar; where you had to do something special to enable Hard Mode, contrary to what we do today with the simple switching of a setting. I personally enjoyed Ulduar as an instance and find it extremely well-designed. In my opinion, the design of Icecrown Citadel should have followed Ulduar’s example, but Blizzard decided to follow with Heroic Mode.

Heroic Modes. I find this one of the least appealing aspects in Wrath of the Lich King as a raider, because it is simply a lazy implementation and very unimaginative. It’s simply adding in more damage, more hit points, and maybe one or two new mechanics (excluding Professor Putricide and the Lich King). From my experience, earning access to Hard Modes in Ulduar made it that much more satisfying (as it wasn’t always so simple); comparing that to the simple flicking a switch.

What should be done in Cataclysm

I am not going to comment on the current Beta build, as that is tentative for change. I am simply going to say what I think should be done.

Attunements should be brought back. Now, when I say attunements, I do not mean long pointless attunements. I simply mean Hyjal-like attunements (Pick up a quest and kill the final boss of the previous instance). Keep gear availability via Badges/Emblems the same. This would make attuning that much simpler. Furthermore, to avoid the situation of: We just recruited this guy but we need to do a clear of the old instance to get him attuned; there are a few possibilities to remedy this that may work. Such possibilities are: Guild Attunements, majority of the raid attuned, Raid Leader attuned, account-wide attunement, etc. The reason I think attunements should be brought back is because it will serve as a barrier for those that have no reason to be in the final instance; and I think we know who those people are.

Hard Modes should return in some form. Rushing to kill XT-002 Deconstructor’s Heart or going through Thorim’s Guantlet, Yogg-Saron’s fight changing dramatically, etc. Those were fun and much more imaginative; such as Mimiron’s self-destruction, General Vezax’s no mana return at all, Yogg-Saron with the removal of buffs, etc.

The reason for this is so there is some differentiation between players (at least some). I believe blizzard went too far in allowing everyone to see content and everyone to get the same gear, that it is time to go toward the other direction and slowly add in restrictions.

  • Panthalaimon

    Yah Ulduar was a lot more fun :|

  • Saed

    One thing I love about Blizzard (and the WoW team), is how they’re willing to spend a great deal of time (and money) simply experimenting. Many game companies stick too much to their original design and are reluctant to change, which eventually leads to their games failing.

    Blizzard has tried a different Heroic mode and Token system for pretty much every tier of content this expansion, and they seem to have learned a lot from their experiments (and mistakes). I’m really excited for the future of raiding and WoW in general.

    They’ve also proven that, although it takes a lot of time and effort, they’re capable of introducing a new class to the game, making the class feel both natural and balanced.

    I think WoW still has a few strong years, and even when it does start to lose popularity, I think Blizzard will have the tools and knowledge to create an even better MMORPG experience.

    God help us all…

  • Yamaneko

    @ Saed
    Very True. I have to admit that Blizzard experimenting is something that is admirable, however, I do wish they would take some more time of planning out the entire expansion (or more planning in general of instance design) rather than as they go. Because the creation of Trial of the Crusader felt more like “omg, we need to release something because it’s about time to” instead of “Let’s make an instance like the Ring of Blood”.

  • Nalera

    Didn’t you see the sign that says, “DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON”?!
    What a mess, what a mess…

    Ulduar was by far my favorite raid of this expansion! I don’t just chalk it up to the more-conducive-to-RP Hard Mode switching (I mean come on, you get different voice acting!), but to the myriad of different mechanics, including nuances between Hard Mode and a “Medium Mode,” ie Molgeim last on Council, or between 1 and 4 Towers on Flame Lev or Keepers on Yogg. The attunement for Algalon was also a great idea, and while the one-hour limit could easily screw over a guild with a lot of disconnects (They fixed this with the attempt-based system in ToGC and ICC) it also made it that much more epic, if frustrating.

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