Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WoW Cataclysm: Initial Impressions

I'm Impressed. The leveling experience, at least what I've seen of it so far, offers a much more interactive storyline in the sense that what you do actually impacts the world around you. For example, when you defeat the "big bad" the "big bad" isn't still hanging around in the same spot the next time you pass by, the "big bad" is gone! The storyline is still on rails, even more so than before, but the actions you take have a visible impact on the world around you.

I'm not sure yet how exactly Blizzard does this. It would appear in some cases that I'm seeing things in the zone differently from what other people are seeing, while in other cases I may be in a completely different version of the zone. Whatever technique they are using it creates the illusion that my actions are actually impacting on the world, and the transitions are seamless. There are no loading screens after a major change.

So far I've been running with the new goblin race, but my brief experiment with a dwarf shows that the same changes have been applied, at least in part, to the older races as well. This kind of storytelling in a MMOG has been tried before, something similar was done in the Conan MMOG, but it seems to be better integrated here. Once again, Blizzard has taken ideas from other companies, polished them, refined them, and then integrated them into WoW to better the overall experience.

I should point out that only your actions make a difference, not your choices. You have no choice whether or not to kill the "big bad", as if you don't you'll be stuck. It's for that reason that i say that the storyline is even more on rails than before, and I can see where this could be a problem should you choose to level up another character of the same race as there will be even less variation in the paths you can choose. A common tactic in the past would be to switch to a different starting area entirely, and I'm not sure that is an option any more.

Another potential problem is that a bugged quest is more critical. If you can't get past a storyline quest you're stuck. I nearly ran into this once with my goblin where I had to defeat a "big bad" that was acting as if it were stuck whenever I attacked from range and that my pet wouldn't attack in melee. Since I'm playing a hunter, my inherent melee attack wasn't enough to defeat the "big bad" and I was stuck until the "big bad" partially reset and my pet at least decided to join in (although I still couldn't attack from range).

We'll just have to wait and see what, if any, effects these problems present down the road. In the meantime I'm having a blast with the game.

Will this cause me to return to WoW with the same level of commitment I showed to the original launch where I played for months and was one of the first to hit the original level cap of 60? Probably not. At this point MMOGs are really just another game for me. I run through all or a portion of the leveling content and then end my subscription since I've never had any interest in the endgame content of any MMOG with the possible exception of the old Star Wars Galaxy MMOG. I no longer buy anything but month to month subscriptions because I know that I'm unlikely to still be playing three months after release, and so far I haven't seen anything about Cataclysm that would change that pattern.


Skye said...

I think they call those instanced zones? Or something like. They had a similar thing in the last expansion too, did they not? Where one you finished a set of quests, the area changed for you, and anyone else who had completed those quests.

In any case, I remember the biggest problem with those was that you always had to catch everyone in the party up the point in the quest line you wanted to do, b/c they couldn't actually "see" (or attack or would be attacked by, that was always fun) the baddie/quest you wanted to fight/do until they got to that part of the quest.

It's always great when some idiot tank lies/doesn't understand what you're doing and pulls the huge dragon who's supposed to be neutral (and *is* neutral to the rest of the party) down on himself and gets eaten.

But hey, thanks for yet another reminder of why I quit playing this game! :D

Liz Rogers said...

Yeah, I don't see this change as a good thing either.

My favorite part of WoW has always been the guild/party experience. The whole "your actions have an effect on the world" is great for a single player game. But if you want to play with guildies, you will need to find guildies that are on the same part of the quest you are on. From what you described, there is no way another player can tag along for the quest.

Liz Rogers said...

Though if this affects non combat NPCs, that might be cool. Though it would be annoying if you are helping someone out and you can't see the NPC they need to find.

Maybe they can make it an option you can turn on or off.

Fulminata said...

Remember these are "initial" impressions, and represent my experience up to about level 12. For the goblin at least, after that things are starting to become a bit more "traditional". The quest paths are starting to branch out and the "instanced zones" are fewer.

I think it's an acknowledgment from Blizzard that just about no one groups for those first few levels. It's only later that I've ever really started to do that.

They did the same sort of thing for the early levels of the death knight in the last expansion, it's just been added to some or all of the other races/classes.

Jabbott said...

It sounds like pretty much exactly what they did with the Death Knight starting area. Which I think was definitely some of the VERY BEST game play I've ever experienced in WoW. That part was so much fun, having the world change around you as you did things and affected it. And like the Death Knight thing it seems to be limited amount of stuff that is like that, and its all stuff that you can handle on your own, no problem.

Jabbott said...

And now I'm kinda wanting to get it and play a new race for a month or two, just because of that sort of stuff. :p

Liz Rogers said...

If it is just for the starting areas that is cool. I haven't played since burning crusade, so I was unaware of the changed with the death knight.

I will not get back into WoW. I will not get back into WoW. XD

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