As our favourite titles grow and so do we, we must often look back and wonder what it was that originally convinced us to invest in these supposed gems among the vast market of games in the first place. The most precious gem of many collections, World of Warcraft, has grown well beyond its means in an attempt to stay “fresh” and appeal to audiences both new and old; however, these pandering attempts are actually the very cause of myself and many other players having cancelled our subscriptions.
The below list, difficult as it was to rank accordingly, contains in descending order of importance the top 10 reasons why I think fellow vanilla World of Warcraft players may feel that their precious gem has been tarnished. Feel free to add your own!
10. Lore heroes get the credit for your hard work.
There was no Deathwing to slay back in the good ol’ days; we vented our frustrations over not having had the best-in-slot gear toward Nefarian–Deathwing’s son–instead! All throughout the original game, you were a foot soldier whose mission it was to combat the relatively unknown minions of the Burning Legion/Scourge/black dragonflight while the real heroes dispatched their evil leaders behind the scenes–and we were okay with that. The player characters were never meant to be ranked anywhere near in importance to Thrall or Tirion Fordring, just to name a couple of the aforementioned heroes, but now Blizzard is attempting to appeal to new players by making their freshly born characters more relevant to the game’s ongoing story.
Except they aren’t. In all actuality, player characters are still mere foot soldiers, but what differs in today’s game is that the player characters now do the heroes’ work instead of the heroes themselves. Your merry band of soldiers is now capable of bringing down foes as powerful as the Lich King, but you’ll never feel the part of the hero in doing so because Tirion Fordring will end up taking all the glory. Sure, you receive the epic loot (maybe), but why not simply fight a general of the Scourge and leave Arthas for the real hero, like how it would have been during the vanilla age? It may seem like a good thing–Blizzard certainly thought so–for the player characters to be dealing with more important enemies, but there’s no sense in your character being teased with relevance only to have said relevance be stripped away once the fighting has stopped. Such a prestigious position among established lore heroes is near impossible to achieve in an MMO setting, anyway.
9. Pet battles are a thing.
While some players may enjoy having something to do with their collectibles, others feel that pet battles are one of many features that really breaks the game’s immersion. Of all the things that could have been announced at the heels of one of the new expansions, why this? I’d sooner pick up one of my own copies of the various Pokémon games than see battles of the same nature in a game whose setting is so much more rich and vast. Tied in with the below–
8. New content isn’t taken seriously.
Whether it’s pandas, Budd Nedreck, or a gardening quest that you should have been doing much sooner before toppling one of Azeroth’s greatest threats, World of Warcraft does not seem to allocate much importance toward keeping the player immersed in the way that it should. Something that myself and many other players look forward to most each time an expansion is rolled out is seeing where the story will go, but when given such an amazing opportunity as Uldum for example to tie up the loose ends created by previous content, we instead find supposedly much-needed references to pop-culture figures like Indiana Jones. Imagine my utter disappointment in finding not a single clue toward the position of the tauren culture’s An’she in the growing mystery of the Light and its various forms; nope, I was left with Indiana Jones the entire way through–sorry, and paired with a Hitler reference too, I suppose.
7. Open-world instancing makes it harder to play with others.
You aren’t getting much done when your quests are so hard that you need a buddy. Grouping was essential in the original game, but with the advent of content being dumbed down for newer players to go in and press a few buttons and get free stuff, open-world instancing has hammered the final nail into the coffin and delivered unto the game a means of true loneliness–just what everybody wanted! Sure, you’re able to see other players despite the instancing, but part of the problem too is that if what you’re doing is so world-altering that you actually need to see something differently than another player, it should probably be a feature that everyone can see rather than just another means of separation. Praise the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj for getting things right, but we’ll never know its kind again!
6. Exploring is trivial when you can fly instead.
Flying ruined the neat little landmarks sprinkled throughout the world(s) that players found great joy in attempting to reach through backdoor entrances and special jump-climbing techniques. These landmarks were always visible along certain airway travel routes between cities, but now that players can access these areas directly through the possession of their own flying mount, the luster of going to these places is lost.
5. Nearly everything in the game has an associated achievement.
Achievements, I feel, have ruined video gaming as a whole. World of Warcraft’s excitement to jump into the achievement trend was no surprise, and as soon as I found myself finishing every quest available to me in the game, I was given a myriad of other menial tasks to accomplish that I simply felt compelled to attempt; naturally, I wanted instead to focus on the actual game and not these annoying little time sinks, but as a completionist, there was no way I could avoid it. Achievements also brought upon Azeroth the criers of “you can’t say there isn’t anything to do when you haven’t yet completed the _____ achievement!”
4. High-leveled characters may now be purchased.
Sure, people have begged for ages to have a way to skip the leveling and go straight into the new content, but that’s only because having a max-leveled character actually used to mean something. Now, leveling is so easy that it’s more of an annoying chore than an accomplishment, so Blizzard was almost forced to offer a means of achieving it in a way that, in their minds, wouldn’t lose them players. I’m not saying that it was a bad decision to allow level boosts, but the fact that we’ve come to this point at all is rather depressing, and it also trivializes the content of all the previous expansions.
3. Linear questing means that you aren’t doing anything unless you go where you’re told to go.
Imagine in the vanilla game that you have decided to travel to one town and pick up six quests that all point in different directions. Then you go to the town next door, and you’re given four quests that somewhat line up with where the previous six are already sending you. If you play your cards right, you can run a circuit and complete all ten quests in little time at all, due to their inherent positioning.
Let’s jump forward to today. You go into town as a level two, and you’re given three quests relating to quillboars. You kill the quillboars, take their cheese, whatever, and suddenly the questgiver’s twin brother gives you two more quests to kill some kobolds once you turn the first ones in. You repeat the process with the kobolds and level up, and when you get back to town, four more quests including one asking you go to the town next door appear. If you were to have gone to that nearby town before having received the relevant quest, you’d find that no quests would be available for you there until having finished the quests in the first town and reached the appropriate level. See where I’m going with this?
Most players, especially those from the vanUilla game, crave the freedom to explore. This is the concept behind the whole “themepark vs. sandbox” debate, and World of Warcraft certainly at this point has become a themepark on a set track toward disaster. I don’t know about you, but linear questing bores me, and it adds unnecessary time to my session that I could instead be spending in the looking-for-group queue. More on that later!
2. There are no more 40-man raids.
People have mixed feelings over the 40-man raids of old, but no one can say that they weren’t both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Not only would the return of 40-man raiding give players with oversized guilds someplace to go, but also Blizzard would find more purpose for the guild leveling feature.
Computer processing is at a point where 40 characters on screen is nothing, making one of the major challenges players faced in attempting these raids a thing of the past. Then again, it would be hard to pull 40 different people from a queue.
1. Looking for Group / Looking for Raid has almost completely removed social interaction from the game.
Believe me, when you wanted to do anything in the vanilla game, you communicated. Advertisements for various PUG dungeons/raids flourished across all chat mediums, and players were generally forced to partake in guild events as a means of accomplishing anything in the game; “forced” wasn’t a bad thing, though, considering that now grouping is a roll of the dice as to whether or not you’ll be able to complete a dungeon in a somewhat competent manner.
Friends also mattered. I found that with guild leveling and the eventual decay of guild quality as a result of this and other factors, I needed friends more than ever; I had no way to make any, however, as the people pulled from the LFG/LFR queue cared only for running headfirst into pulls and shirking any means of coordination if it meant moving at least a small step forward. A simple flick back into the queue allows one to obtain a whole new group and not worry about the consequences of being removed from the previous, so who has time for making friends?
You would never have originally been a part of these groups had you not said a single word back in the vanilla game, but if you attempt to say anything now, nobody will respond; if they do, they’ll say, “Just join the queue!”
That, my friends, is World of Warcraft today. It’s pretty lonely despite all the players!