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I promise you that we'll get off of WoW and talk about something else some time soon, but as WoW is the number 1 MMO in the world and my primary game of choice right now, there's a lot to say about it. Today however, I want to jack out of the game and take a look at the giant pulling the strings of the puppet...Blizzard.
I have been playing WoW off and on for the past 5 years and I can tell you that for the majority of my time playing the game, I have had a very distinct hate for Blizzard Entertainment. I've quit the game out of sheer principle more times than I can remember, vowing to never come back; always at some point, finding myself fitting my Night Elf feet back into my boots. What Blizzard has created is more addictive than Coke when they were putting cocaine in it. These days however, I've made my peace with Blizz. Patch 3.3.0 did it for me. The Random Dungeon Finder...wow, this was an awesome and much needed addition to the game and a huge first step to making changes to the game that actually mattered to the players. Now whether you are one of those hardcore players that feel like this and other changes put the game too far into "Easy Mode", or a happy happy hippo like me, you use and love the RDF.
Good job Blizz, but what's next? Well, they answered with the next big update, 3.3.5. A new raid AND most importantly an absolutely overhauled chat system with finally, CROSS-SERVER chat! How many times have you met an awesome person (especially with the RDF) and was elated to find out that they play WoW just like you, but then totally let down when you found out they played on a different server...if you were using the RDF when you found them then you guys can just queue up for another instance, but eventually, you'll have to let them go. So sad; but soon, with RealID, the new chat system powered by Battle.net, you'll be able to add friends and talk to them cross-server, cross faction, and even across game platforms (WoW to Starcaft for example). Blizzard is on a roll and I'm loving them. I don't know if someone got fired and someone else got hired, or if the execs just decided to remove the wool from their heads but some good things are being done these days.
I was reading my July/August edition of Massive Online Gamer. If you are looking for a magazine that does more than just mention a couple of MMOs then goes right back to whatreally matters, console games, and haven't found one then I highly suggest you check out MOG. It's a magazine devoted to online games and gamers. It has it's flaws, mostly having to do with focusing on the same select few games each month, but if you play one of the main 5 P2P games, I'm sure that the magazine covers yours. Okay, back to the point; I was reading my MOG, this edition featuring a spread on the upcoming expansion, Cataclysm, and I almost slapped myself in the face.
I have come to the realization that Blizzard has a very difficult time figuring out what is worth charging 12 million people $39.99 + tax and what should be put into an update. Looking at the cycle created by the past two expansions, you could figure out that this is a "new race" turn and I don't even have a problem with the races that are being offered. I actually think they are kinda cool. Mainly because of the worgen. Being Team Jacob, this is my chance to be a werewolf too! But the implementation is not right. First of all, if you take a look at the goblin racials vs the worgen's it will make you say, "Really?" As a matter of fact, let's take a look at them now.
- Darkflight- Allows the worgen to temporarily increase its movement speed by 70%; can be used every 3 minutes.
- Aberration- Reduced duration from the effects of curses and diseases.
- Flayer- Bonus to skinning, as well as the ability to skin faster and not use a skinning knife.
- Viciousness- 1% bonus to damage
- Rocket Belt- Allows the player to activate one of two rocket abilities every 2 minutes.
- Jump up to 20 yards
- Shoot rockets at an enemy within 30 yards
- Hobgoblin- Summon a pack hobgoblin once every 30 minutes, which will act as a personal servant and grant bank access.
- Bonus to Alchemy skill and should the player decide to become an alchemist, there will be an increased benefit from drinking health and mana potions
- Haste- Permanent 1% increase to attack and casting speed
- Diplomacy- Because of their knack for mercantile affairs, goblins will always receive the best possible gold discount, regardless of reputation
Now just counting the bullet-points, one race has a clear advantage, 4 vs 6, but when you actually read what the talents are, there is no comparison. Based on racials alone, I want to be a goblin, hands down. I'll take not having to use my hearth and then waste 10 minutes flying back to where I was, every thirty minutes over not having to buy a 39 copper skinning knife (IF I'm a skinner) any day. I'll take a 40 or more gold discount on all items over a reduced duration of diseases and curses. And I'll take a championship belt that can either blast my opponent in the face or give me a leap and bound of escape every two minutes over simply running faster for a few seconds every three.
The racial mounts:
Now I know those images may be a little hard to make out, but this is what it comes down to. Goblin, roadster (and we're not even going to discuss the possible submarine the goblins may be getting); worgen, boar...Really? A wolf riding on a pig? Marissa Monera, writer of the article covering the expansion in MOG, excused Blizzard for this huge deficit by saying, "Hey, they have to provide some incentive for players to create what could be the most annoying characters in the game." However, I beg to differ. Players have been asking for a playable goblin race for years, and that's besides the fact that many Horde players consider themselves too "mature" to play a pretty character. Why else would people be willing to play trolls? All that besides, I personally think the goblins look pretty cool and am probably going to roll one at some point.
But given this excuse, if the worgen is supposed to be the race with the cool factor, which I can't say that it isn't...make it cool Blizz. The talent Flayer; this could be a decent talent if you made it worth our while. The idea is right, werewolves should be able to skin without a skinning knife and fast, but don't leave it there, making our gain an one time saving of 39 c. Why shouldn't ALL worgen, regardless of profession, be able to skin? Now that's cool. Whoever heard of a werewolf needing to ride any mount? Let them train to get on all fours at level 20, 40, and 60, and run like the wind! Now THAT'S cool. Which brings up another point. If you've seen the videos, currently the worgen talent, Darkflight, looks the same as a rogue activating Sprint. That's not cool, werewolves are not supposed to be humans dressed up for Halloween. They are supposed to be humans transformed, eating all the people at the Halloween party. If I'm a werewolf and I'm going to dash, it needs to be on all fours.
MOG goes on in the article to list the Race/Class Combination changes as such:
- Blood Elf- Warrior
- Dwarf- Shaman, Mage
- Gnome- Priest
- Human- Hunter
- Night Elf- Mage
- Orc- Mage
- Tauren Paladin, Priest
- Troll- Druid
- Undead- Hunter
- Goblin- Everything but Paladin and Druid
- Worgen- Everything but Shaman and Paladin
Now those combinations don't look too bad, some of the new combos are ones I've heard asked for in my five years of playing the game. However, someone tell me how it makes sense that a werewolf can be a Druid and transform into a cat, bear, bird, and moonchicken thing (sounds more like a vampire), but CAN NOT be a Shaman, who transforms into a wolf and (depending on the spec) can summon lupine companions.
The reason these imbalances bother me so much is because of the seemingly omnipresent imbalance between the factions, Horde and Alliance. Since I've been playing WoW, the Horde have always been the hardcore raiders, getting through content and stomping face in PvP...basically the adults that play the game, and the Alliance has always consisted of those who played the game to socialize and look at themselves, thinking of how pretty they are...the "children" of the game. Now this is a stereotype, I know, but as with all, there is certainly some truth to that claim. I remember when Burning Crusade was coming out, I, as an Alliance player was elated, because I was thinking that the whole lot of immature players were going to head on over to the Horde to make Blood Elves and then maybe we could actually start to win some in PvP. I remember that obviously the Horde feared this as well as there were a lot of guilds thatbanned Blood Elves from joining their ranks.
Unfortunately the shift never panned out. The kids found out that Draenei women were pretty too and the Horde numbers only solidified, holding on to any of their members that would have eventually left due to the lack of attractive Horde toons. Wrath of the Lich King brought no prospects of shift in the scales of power due to Death Knights being available to both factions. And today, on most servers, I'd say it is difficult being an Alliance raider/PvPer. On my server, there are very few good raiding guilds, those having limited or no slots available for new recruits, and absolutely no PvP ones. I wanted to try to get some honor while I was leveling my shaman and consistently ran into, Alliance 5 players to Horde 10 players, situations. I just gave up. Alliance players wanting to do Wintergrasp have it only a little better, being guaranteed one win (because players show up) at 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening.
The faction truly needs a boost, and I was hoping/thinking being awarded the worgen race would be it. But given the vast advantage to goblins in racial talents, I fear that I'll be singing the same sad song for the Alliance.
Cataclysm is also going to introduce (surprisingly) a new profession, Archaeology, which I currently do not really get the gist of how it works. An overhaul to the talent tree system is on the way, a new way to grind after grinding to max level, Path of the Titans, and a dumbing down of the item stat system, with some major changes to how a couple of classes work. The new level cap will be 85...Really? Five levels? Either those levels are going to fly by, or they are going to be far too tedious and long to obtain.
Two exciting things that Cataclysm are bringing are going to be the ability to fly anywhere in Azeroth and a resurfacing of much of the Old World. I am interested to see how far they will go to make the "cataclysm" a real change to Azeroth.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these updates to the game are not good ones or even in some cases, needed ones. What I am saying is that the majority of the changes could be implemented in a patch or a major update. To me, RealID, coming out in Patch 3.3.5 revolutionizes the game much more than adding two more races to it. Cross-server chat is expansion content, talent tree changes is patch/update content.
My problem with Blizzard is that they are acquiesced with mediocrity. The World of Warcraft has the the talent behind it, fan base, and resources to be truly the greatest MMO ever created. But Blizzard is fine with half-stepping. They go just far enough to make sure their subscribers are going to buy what they ship out, but never work hard enough to be really great. Why do we players have to wait two years for an expansion to come out and get either two new races that change nothing about the game, or one new class, that gives you no options on what new you want to try? Even two new races and two new classes in an expansion would be a big enough update to satisfy me. Why is it that even WoW F2P (free to play) lookalike, Runes of Magic, has player housing yet we don't and it's not being offered in an expansion? Why is it that other major games (Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes/Villians, EvE Online), some having, I daresay,far less resources than WoW does, can release huge updates that change the face of the game forfree, yet we are expected to pay $40 for cosmetic changes? Blizzard announced that Cataclysm would be WoW's last "expansion", this was their time/opportunity to do something really phenomenal.
WoW is a great game, one that changed the face of online gaming forever; and as a consumer, I don't mind paying for the work that is put in to keep the game running. Compared to other hobbies' start-up and maintenance costs, gaming is dirt cheap. However, if a company expects me to pay almost the same amount as I paid for the game in the first place, in the way of an expansion, I expect a product in return that truly expands the game.