Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wrath of the Lich King Six Month review

Wrath of the Lich King has been out for about six months now and I feel it a good time to take a little look back on what we have seen and try to get an idea of what we have to look forward to.

In the first month Wrath came out it was all about the levelling and some would call it the race to 80. This was one of the high points of the expansion. The questing experience in Wrath of the Lich King is one of the best parts of the game. Many players said it’s the best questing they had ever seen. The lore seemed richer and more detailed than ever. You got to meet the Lich King very early on and then at the mid way point you had the wonderful Wrathgate video. All of this pushed many people to continue questing for the Loremaster of Northrend achievement well passed the time they hit 80.

By the mid-December mark I and many others had hit 80 and were now looking to get geared for Heroics and raid instances. This proved to be much easier than most people expected. The amount of high level blues, crafted epics and the ease of heroic instances made getting gear very easy. This was where the complaining from many people began. The ease of heroic instance with their lack of trash made many people wonder if end game was too easy. The idea of shinning purple loot and the word epic changed. From this point on purple loot became candy and what was the best tasting candy for you and your class became the debate.

By January players had cleared all of the heroic instances and were pretty much rocked out in all epics whether it was crafted, rep grind pick-ups, or raid drops did not really matter. We were now looking at the raid instances. One question came to many lore whores minds why am I going there; I don’t have a quest to go there. Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Vault of Archavon none of them had quests. (Why am I killing this dragon?) Once inside any of the raid instance either on 10man or 25man we all found that the fights were too easy. Within two weeks of first stepping inside any of these raid instance players had them fully on farm and it became purely a matter of finding people who still wanted to raid. The only exception to this rule seemed to be Malygos as it took a little longer to get use to using the dragons. Many people did not like the dragons since it took their normal playing class away and gave them a floaty hard to follow rogue.
For the next 3 months a question circled around everywhere in Warcraft. What are we going to do now? Many raiding guild tried to fill that time with raiding achievements only to finish those off within two weeks of starting. For those in mid level guilds the idea of raiding achievement became more difficult as many players decided it was time for a break. Heroic instance achievements and rep grinding for mounts became the next option. Others found there new endgame love to be Wintergrasp and pugging together 25 people to push Archavon the Stone Watcher over on a weekly basis. Achievement whoring, and alts became the thing to do instead of clearing instances we were bored with.

During the 3 months between clearing all the raids and patch 3.1 another little event was going on; this was the arena tournament. Arenas quickly became the focus of many people in the game. Not for the game play of PvP but for the examples of how classes were imbalanced and why many did not really like PvP. Despite all the boredom many simply abandoned PvP both in arenas and battlegrounds Blizzard pointed to the rewards on offer as to why they was a lower turnout this time, but I feel that the mechanics of arena PvP were the real issue with player turnout.
Finally with much crying and complaining patch 3.1 came out. Ulduar has totally filled the gap. The video clip gives lore lovers a reason to step instead the instance (though there is no quest). The Argent Tournament has given casual players and achievement lovers a place to go and earn new rewards. The new patch should be able to fill most players time for the next month and then who knows. Likely we will return to crying about how we have nothing to do until the next patch.
The Wrath of the Lich King expansion can be divided into two halves it seems. The half where we have a ton of stuff to do and are totally excited to try everything and the other half where players are totally bored as they feel like they have seen it all. My advice is to take it slow this time there is no need to clear all the content on the day it comes out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Add-ons and 3.1

In recent weeks two things have made news for Warcraft; the recent policy change towards add-ons and the roll out of patch 3.1.

From what I have read and listened to, many feel the main issue with policy change towards add-ons is a direct money issue. People seem to think Blizzard main issue is that add-on makers were making money off their product and that Blizzard should have greater control over this. With Patch 3.1 coming out this week and all the excitement about Ulduar and all the new content; a large number of players have seen what I feel is the more important reason why Blizzard changed their add-on policy. Add-ons cause technical issues for Blizzard and players. With each patch change add-ons stop working and create new errors; meaning that all add-ons need to be update to work with a new patch. Now this is not really a problem for many add-on users and the same goes for the creators of those add-ons (though creators have less reason to update add-ons now), but for Blizzard this is very important. Imagine the numbers of messages game masters got this week because players were getting error messages simply because their add-ons had not been updated. Remember when Wrath first came out and Quest Helper would not let you log on if you were in Dalaran. We can be very sure that game masters had to reply to a ton for messages telling player to turn off Quest Helper or this is a bug caused by the add-on you use. Blizzard should not have to be tech support for the add-on makers but this week more than ever they are. This is why I think Blizzard took steps to change their add-on policy, so they would be getting fewer add-ons in game to cause errors that they would have to spend time addressing.
As part of the add-on policy change there have been a number of additions in both 3.1 and even 3.0; taking features from add-ons and putting them directly into the game. Omen, Quest Helper, and Atlas are some explains of Warcraft taking what add-ons did and putting them into the game. With 3.1 the threat meters have been improved to the point a player can go without Omen. There has been improvement made to tracking quest information, though this is still not at the level of Quest Helper and likely never will be. Much was made of the Outfitter style feature that was going to be in 3.1 and I will be interested to see how that works once they get it out in the next patch.
Since they have shown themselves willing to take from add-ons in such a way we can now ask what add-on would you like to see be put directly into the game? For me it would have to be an improved UI add-on, recount or inventory tracker.