Following the Cataclysm leaks last week, and the announcement of Onyxia’s triumphant return, there was much discussion around the blogosphere and podcastosphere (???) about Blizzard’s ‘selling out’. This was also the case on the Slash2Podcast where the topic evolved. Is WoW less fun than it used to be? There was much reminiscing about the amazing joy of the Onyxia quest chain, and the ‘key’ requirements for dungeons. The boys on Slash2 almost brought tears to my eyes with their memories of facing Nefarian for the first time, and the sense that everything they had done in the game until then had led up to this one moment.
Apparently, they don’t feel that way anymore. There seemed to be a consensus that the game had lost this sense of story, was somehow lacking in its sense of purpose.
Wait a minute? Aren’t we all in Northrend to kill Arthas, the dreaded Lich King?
I have come to the conclusion that hard-core raiders are missing out on some of the best parts of the game, and I think that they to a large extent have themselves to blame. Here’s my theory: In Vanilla WoW, everyone was experiencing the quest lines for the first time and had not yet become ‘Raiders’ or ‘Casuals’. Raiders were just like the rest of us, questing away and discovering the game. They had not yet discovered that what they really wanted to do was beat big bad bosses, so they were taking it all in on their way to the top. With each new expansion, Raiders want to get to the new raid content as quickly as possible. So they race headlong through the levels and dungeons, in order to get there as soon as possible. How can they possibly have time to enjoy the journey? And how can you complain about not enjoying the journey when you haven’t taken the time?
Personally, I think Wrath of the Lich King has had some epic quest lines – Wrathgate springs to mind as the most obvious. The Guru of Drakuru quests are also pretty coherent and culminate in a great battle. And it is obvious that we are in training to kill the Lich King. He has certainly cropped up in a lot of cut scenes on the way. And I’m assuming he’ll be the boss of Icecrown.
I will concede that I miss the ‘key’ system. I think you should have to work hard to be ‘keyed’ for a raid. And I miss the dungeon sets that got you geared up enough to be accepted as a raider. But I also think that things are not as bad as some make them out to be.