So you are wondering what I can say about Blizzards new expansion that hasn’t all ready been said, or written, in countless articles, reviews, blogs, and forums all over the Internet -and elsewhere - then clearly you do not know me. The real question is...does anything I have to say really matter? Actually I think it does and it is worth getting out there. To many reviews and articles just touch the tip of the iceberg and do not really go into to much detail about the “good” and the “bad” and rarely will you ever find a review or article that is willing to dish the dirt on things that are really, really...bad. I tend to do this - I mean dish the dirt. See as a blogger, I can say what I feel. That means I am not beholding to anyone. Nobody pays me to write, and therefore I can write what I feel, give my opinion, and not have to answer to an editor or game company. If I think something is “bad” I can just tell you, “...in my opinion, this is bad.” In the same instance I can also tell you, “...this is good!” I have nothing to lose nor to gain by misleading or lying about my game experience. All I can do is write what I know. When it comes to Blizzards new expansion Cataclysm for their game, World of Warcraft, --- I have lots to talk about!
Forget all the crap anyone else has told you...erase it from your mind. Seriously. It is crap. Sure they told you about the new zones, and some of the cool new quest, and how Blizzard rebuilt some of the older zones(city of Orgrimmar is rebuilt as well), - but did they also tell you all the pros, and cons of this to the game in general that this expansion added? Did they tell you that in one single expansion Blizzard may have re-written the book on, “How Not to Make an Expansion.”, while at the same time write the book on “How to Make an Expansion.” --- doubtful --- but I am.
Right now you are saying...”wait...what?” How can they do both Kristi? Well dear reader, read on, and I’ll tell you how. It will be a long, boring, monotonous, and tedious read...laced with the occasional funny quip, and or exciting incite into a games expansion that makes swimming naked in a pool of flesh eating piranha’s, that haven’t been fed in days, seem like fun! Oh yes...and more! Much more!
Game...the very word is well known around the world, and by most it means something that entails having “fun”. Well, depending on what definition you read, it might say, “something a person partakes of for “entertainment” --- same thing, just worded differently. Funny thing about the word “game” and Blizzard’s new expansion is --- they rarely walk hand in hand. In fact I’d say just a couple of Blizzards game designers actually know what the word means...the rest are totally clueless, and I bet the number that make up the “rest” --- numbers into the hundreds! It must, after having experienced their new expansion - the word “game”, or the word "fun" for that matter, were probably rarely said or heard in the halls, and rooms at Blizzards offices.
Seriously!(I know the word seriously is way over used - but OMG! - OK, that is way over used as well...but - seriously - OMG!) What the frak was Blizzard thinking?! Did someone write the word “game” and “fun" on a chalk board(I understand they do not use chalk boards - they use dry-erase boards according to a Blue poster on the main forums - so I stand corrected!)--- dry-erase board at Blizzard, and then mark a line through them, and tell the game designers, “Forget these words ever existed. Today we’re re-defining these words. From now on the words “game” and “fun" should be synonymous with, tedious, boring, repetitive, frustrating, and aggravating.” Thank the Gods of gaming that a couple of Blizzards designers ignored this idiots advice.
No really...if it weren’t for a handful of cool, and creative people, at Blizzard, that know what the words “game” and “fun" actually mean - the whole expansion would have no doubt used the re-defined words. I am not kidding. I know...how can I be so very negative? Right. I mean I have been defined as a “WoW fangirl” so many times. I’ve even been accused of being a shill for Blizzard, and yet...::sigh:: yes...I am sorry, if it were not for a few cool things, and my friends that currently play - I’d have canceled my account with this expansion.
“Does it really suck that bad Kristi? Look at all the reviews, and articles and blogs, and what not that have said otherwise...they all give Blizzard kudos for this expansion, and call it the best expansion ever and in some cases the best expansion ever seen in an MMORPG - EVER! Surely you are a jaded gamer, and that is why you are saying what you are saying right?”
::sigh:: I wish that were the case...but for once it is not. I am so disappointed with the direction Blizzard has gone with this expansion that I have decided to let my subscription end when it comes up for renewal if Blizzard doesn’t fix what they broke, and rework some aspects of their game - because quite frankly - WoW is no longer “fun”. Now let me explain why. Let the review begin.
Fast and straight to the point. New zones...only one is worth a damn in my opinion --- Uldum. The others are littered with more of the same BS quest from previous expansions and the original game. Whom ever did the quest in Vashj’ir should be removed from making quest ever again. By the time I got done with the first area in Vashj’ir all I wanted to know was “how many” --- seriously. How many of X must I kill and or how many of X must I gather. The whole zone is like this. 150 quest mostly made up of kill and gather quest and then there are the infamous fed-X quest. I ran one toon completely through this zone and refuse to do it with any other because it is so utterly boring. There is only so many kill quest, and gather quest, a player can endure before they are ready to start pulling their own teeth --- because that would be more fun!
Then...then you find out that the whole zone is bugged. Quest the 150 quest that is required to get the achievement...forget it. Try as I might I cannot get past 139 quest. I have done all I could find. I killed things looking for potential quest drops people have mentioned. Turns out through a ticket to a GM that I had all ready completed said quest lines. All the GM could tell me was that there were 150 quest in the zone and GM's are not allowed to tell players what quest they still need to do. ::sigh:: I have 20,000 Leagues Achievement...yet I have not done the required numbered, according to the GM, to achieve the Sinking in Vashj’ir achievement. Oh and yeah...I did do all the pick-up quest. Turns out some of the quest did not register toward my achievement. Did the GM fix this? No. I’m still sitting on 139 quest. So yeah...I am a little annoyed that due to Blizzard’s snafu I cannot complete the zone and get the achievement.
Which brings me to questing in the new zones in general. They are all very linear and designed strictly to get you from one area of a zone to another. You cannot deviate from the path because there is no where else to go...there is X number of quest, and if one is broken, or you abandon one ---- well that’s it --- you’re done with that zone...you cannot progress any further. Had that happen to me in of all places Uldum. My favorite new zone. There I was trying to finish out the Ramkahen quest line when one of the quest I was on failed to work properly. Took a week before I got a response from a GM and it turns out many had experienced the same issue. They finally got it working and I was able to finish out the quest line. The problem is...that is the quest line. There is no other quest in the zone other than the Harrison Jones quest line. So if you have a broken quest - that’s it until a GM can get it fixed. Unfortunately that is how it is in many of the new zones. All of them have a given set of quest and those quest are all connected via one huge linear path. No room to explore off the beaten path to find side quest at all. It’s not like Northrend from WotLK x-pac where there was room to explore and grab pick-up quest. So that is one thing about the new x-pac that really annoys me --- the linear nature of the whole experience. It takes the term riding rails to a whole new level.
As for the revamped areas and the new quest. There are plenty of side quest...but again the new revamped areas quest, and such seem to be laid out in a way to rush a player through a zone and get them to the next one. No real room to explore and find pick-up/side quest. Just follow the scripted, linear hard coded path and that is it. Some will say this is good. I disagree. It removes the fun of exploration. No longer is it fun to dive into every nook and cranny. Why? Because there is nothing there.
Phasing is nothing new, we saw it in Northrend. What is bad however is that the new and old zones are heavily laced with it. This is good, it is cool that as players finish a zone they can see the difference their character made by defeating the baddies in that area and save the day. It is bad because Blizzard did not implement a way for players to get together after the fact. What I am saying is. If you have completed a zone out, and have all ready “phased” there is no way for you to go back and help a guildy with that zone. It is all phased for you and the guildy is seeing the zone as it was before the change.
This also means that if you happen to play on a PvP server, players are at the mercy of phasing mechanics and gankers who take advantage of it. I guess Blizzard did not think phasing through all the way before taking it live. It is sad that such an awesome story telling tool is broken in such a manner that it is more of an isolation device than a tool to tell a story. It isolates players from one another. Guild mates cannot go back and help other guild members in phased areas and that means that if a guild member is being chain ganked by a high level toon - to bad. You cannot go there to help them. Blizzard needs to make it so guild mates can phase back to assist others in the quild or just a player that may need help completing a quest.
Another thing about phasing. If you do not run quest in the new zone you do not unlock any of the NPC vendors or flight paths. Some of the vendors are actually tide to quest lines. Like the Earthen Ring Quartermaster, the Therazene Quatermaster, the Dragonmaw Quartermaster all tied into quest lines and unless you do quest up to the point where you can unlock them - you do not have access to them. We saw this in Wrath of the Lich King, but not to the extent that we see now. Because at least in Lich King we had access to NPC vendors and what not - that is not the case in Cataclsym.
Wheeew...and I am just getting started. Let’s move on to the new profession Archeology. I for one thought cool this sounds really fun. Then I did it. What a boring, tedious waste of time. Seriously, there is maybe 3 or 4 things worth getting the rest is useless junk. Vial of the Sands is the only thing that is actually worth getting and that has a .1% drop rate. What does that mean for your average player? It means forget ever seeing it. Why? Just get your archeology up to 525 and then “let’s talk”. Talk about how many useless pieces of junk you assembled...oh you say you assembled 250+ fossil artifacts, and 100 Night Elf pieces...good for you! Yep, that’s archeology in a nutshell. Find fragments, assemble fragments, vendor junk. It literally produces nothing useful. It takes a good 35+ hours of “in game time” to get to 525 and then it takes even longer to get some of the higher end pieces that are worth anything like the “Ring of the Boy Emperor”. Sure some of the things are useful and are “bound to your account”, so you can use them over multiple toons, but those things that are useful are so few and hard to get that it makes archeology one of the most boring and tedious; and so not rewarding professions ever seen in a game. Don’t believe me. Do it. Then as I said...let’s talk!
Speaking of professions...how screwed up can Blizzard be to add 75 levels to existing professions and not include hardly any pieces of PvE gear recipes? I’ll tell you how screwed up. Instead of PvE gear, Blizzard in all their wisdom put in mostly PvP gear...even the top tier stuff you buy from vendors in the Twilight Highlands mostly has PvP gear! There is just a handful of PvE pieces and most of that is garbage because better stuff can be gotten from running normal dungeons! Not heroic or raids...just normal dungeons. How frakked up is that?
Professions should have scaled with Cataclsym and they didn’t. Take “Flask of Endless Mana” for instance. The flask could be used over and over again and had the same cooldown as a normal potion of flask. That meant that a player with this flask didn’t have to keep making more flask or buy new ones. They could just use the same flask again and again. Very cool! That was an awesome addition to alchemy in the last expansion. Many a healer and caster trained up alchemy to make use of it. Then comes Cataclsym. Instead of scaling it, what did Blizzard do? They actually nerfed it! Yes, they nerfed it, and made it less effective than it was in WotLK. In my opinion that is just plain stupid and made all the effort one put into alchemy seem like a punch in the stomach. Same goes for many of the professions. Instead of scaling some things Blizzard either nerfed or made the item useless in Cataclsym. You’re no doubt wondering if Blizzard replaced that cool flask with anything useful. Nope. They gave us a potion of mythical mana that gives the user 10k mana. Now take into consideration that 10k mana is the equivalent of two spells worth of mana for a healer, and you can see that the new potion is a joke at best considering that most healers spells cost upwards of 3k mana, and many of a healers main spells cost 5k+! So that mythical mana potion isn’t so mythical now is it.
There are so many little things like this that makes a player want to question Blizzards developers in person to get answers to these and other questions and just ask “Why did you do this?” and “Why did you do that?” in Cataclsym. The whole expansion is littered with wreckage of poorly implemented game play and mechanics.
Ugh...am I a little annoyed by Blizzards lack of foresight - oh...just a weee bit. But it gets worse before it gets better.
Dungeons in Cataclsym. What can I say? OK I’ll say it, they suck. Plain and simple they are unispired pieces of garbage that lack any real enjoyment when you run them. Once again we’re given craptastic dungeons filled with static MOBs only now there are more of them! Joy! Like Grim Batol. Who designed this? Seriously. Is that really the best you can do? Just fill a place with static groups of MOB’s and then squeeze them in to spaces where they are literally stacked a stones throw away from one another and call that a well made dungeon. Hell you couldn’t even come up with new MOB abilities - you had to rehash WotLK attacks and give them your new bosses...which by the way are not new...just more rehashed bosses from previous expansions.
Where is my Halls of Reflection or Pit of Saron? Halls of Reflection was actually a good dungeon - especially toward the end. There was a huge sense of urgency and impending doom with it as you made your way along the cliff face. We see nothing like this in Cataclsym. At least in HoR it had some excitement and built that excitement as you made your way through it. In Cataclsym dungeons it is all about getting through tons of static piles of MOB’s. Anyone for Deadmines? What a joke. Just as bad as Grim Batol. Just add more packs of MOB’s that hit harder, then add bosses that just hit harder, and toss in a few adds to make things more screwed up. Don’t actually try to do something different. Play it safe and just regurgitate the same-old, same-old.
That’s the least of the new dungeons problems though. No the new dungeons have a more sinister underlying problem.
Back in WotLK Blizzard introduced a new tool. This tool would allow players to find other players across servers and then allow them to run dungeons. It was the Look For Dungeon tool - LFD for short. It was praised by many players --- me included. I loved it. It allowed for smaller guilds to fill out their ranks when they didn’t have enough people on. It was a blessing. It worked really well in WotLK and it was casual player friendly.
Then came Cataclsym and its newer type of dungeons. Dungeons that are more difficult and less forgiving than their “facerolling" counterparts in WotLK and players became too complacent in their ease. Dungeons that actually require players to go back to their roots of their classes and learn about things like crowd control, kiting, and aggro mitigation. It also meant players would have to learn such terms as situational awareness, and dynamic group interaction. The new dungeons really do require people to be able to play their classes to their fullest...that is until you are very well geared. As the lead designer said in his blog recently...”once you are geared, the dungeons become much easier..” or something to that effect. Why did Blizzard’s lead designer need to even write a blog about the difficulty of Cataclsym’s dungeons? Well, simply said, the level of complaints and concerns voiced by players on the main forums and other gaming outlets became a very common topic - dungeons in Cataclsym are hard and very difficult to complete.
That’s not exactly true though. As someone that has done them all using various classes from tanks, to dps, to healers.
It's not that the dungeons are hard, they are not, in fact some are down right silly easy, like Vortex and Shadowfang Keep. Nope, it is not that they are hard - they are “over tuned” and “tuned” for players in better gear that know how to play their classes. Read on.
See, Blizzard introduced the LFD system to alleviate a huge issue of people trying to find others to play with in dungeons. As I said, the LFD tool was a blessing for smaller guilds. It allowed small guilds to fill their ranks with pick-up players. This worked well in WotLK and players loved it. Now that system is coming back to bite us, and Blizzard, in the butt, and here is why.
The single biggest problem that nobody is really addressing is the fact that Blizzard over tuned their dungeons. Yes, and read this what I am about to write....Blizzard tuned the heroic dungeons for people with "better than average gear" that means 346 and up. Anything less than that and you'll be struggling to heal heroics, tank heroics, or dps heroics ---- “with one caveat” --- that is, “if people know what they are doing”...and that is where this all falls apart.
Blizzard not only tuned these dungeons for players in good gear, but they expect that all players know their class and how to play them. Great...fine...but that is not we the users of this game encounter in PUG's(pick-up groups) and Blizzard didn't think past that.
No they didn't. See PUG's are made up off all kinds of players that may not all have great gear, and not all play their classes at "raid" level experience, and that is what Blizzard expects.
Sorry...that is not ever going to happen. The lead designer is delusional if he thinks that is ever going to happen. I said a month ago that when the average player finally hits heroics the real proverbial doo-doo would hit the fan and it is. That is why you have long waits in queues. People found out about the dungeons and now you have fewer tanks and even fewer healers.
Blizzards response to all this. Learn to play. Get better gear. Well you can't learn to play if people are kicking players left and right from groups, and or PUGs are not finishing dungeons because people get frustrated and leave. You can't get good gear for the same reason. It is a vicious cycle(forget player crafted entry level gear - it doesn’t exist). On top of that Blizzard feels that healers need nerfed - more -(patch 4.0.6) as if things were not difficult enough for people trying to play their game via "PUG's". Blizzard created this tool for that very reason so that small guild’s could get pick-up players to fill their ranks and for players whose guild members may not all play at the same time. This has nothing to do with the large guild’s that have all the tools like vent, and a lot of players to disseminate information between one another easily via guild websites, and what not. No, this is about your average player, and the LFD system - that a vast majority of players make use of.
Blizzard created this atmosphere. The only people anyone should be pointing fingers at is the people that made this mess, and those people work for Blizzard. They created this mess by making previous dungeons faceroll events and then over tuning Cataclsym dungeons to the point that your "average" player must become a raid level experienced player in order to finish out a basic heroic. It takes hours of playing a toon to get that good. Most of WoW's players are "casual" - casual in that they do not care to see the inside of a raid...all they wish to do is maybe do a few dungeons a week, some farming of mats and maybe a little crafting. Is it any wonder that on such websites as MMORPG.com and Massively and on the official forums that so many players are complaining about the level of difficulty that they encounter in the new dungeons? No it isn't...simply put, and I will say this again, and again, Blizzard "over tuned" their dungeons, and the average player has to now dedicate even more time, and effort to(moreso than ever before), to get to be able to participate in some of the end game content.
I am sorry, but your average player does not live in Azeroth. They have real lives and real responsibilities. They may also not have a large guild with which to work with.
What Blizzard needs to do is fix itemization first and foremost. The very fact that there is so little tanking and healing gear available even at entry level dungeons is sad to say the least. How many post have we seen posted about the lack of healing and tanking gear? Too many.
Also, remove some of the packs of MOB’s that litter every stinking dungeon(with the exception of Vortex Pentacle and City of Tol’Vir). Grim Batol is the worst offender, next is Stonecore. And why is one of your best dungeons so long, I’m talking Halls of Origination. One of the only cool dungeons and yet I hate it. Not because of the stupid number of mini-boss fights or the fact that the bosses use the same-old, same-old combat mechanics we’ve seen so many times before...no...that is not it. It is because everything is so stinking spread out, and there are just too many...too many main bosses!
It takes to much time to do that dungeon. It is a mini-raid. Not a dungeon. We’re all ready seeing people skip the last three main bosses and go right to Rajh. Why? Because it is to stinking long! People do more than just play WoW you know Blizzard!
Blizzard needs to stop balancing classes with a sledgehammer and try play testing those heroics with the stats, and gear the average player would have instead of all 346 ilevel and with players that know all the fights. The best testing is being done on live right now as I type this. Those average players in "just barely" proper ilevel gear and struggling to even finish a normal dungeon let alone a heroic. That is why when they are done and have not finished that dungeon come here to these forums and other forums across the Internet to complain that "tanks" suck, "healers" suck, "DPS'ers" are all stupid. It is actually none of those, it is that Blizzard "over tuned" their dungeons to the point of sillyness.
I mean come on - one-shot kill game mechanics! Who actually at Blizzard thought that this would make dungeons fun?
Nobody is asking for easy. We just wish to be able to at least have a fighting chance to finish a dungeon without having to stress out on every stinking pull. Not all players, play this game at the same level, some will never be raid level players - Blizzard seems to have forgotten this.
::sigh:: I am just getting started on this review. I said in a previous entry that I would do a thorough review of Cataclsym and I meant it. It will take more than one or two articles to do a thorough review. There is just to much going on in this expansion to cover it all at once. There is some cool things that Blizzard did...I know...you’re shocked that I could say that after reading what I just wrote, but I will point out some of the cool things that Blizzard did in this expansion...you’ll just have to wait a bit for it.
As I also said, Blizzard rewrote the book on “How to Make an Expansion” and at the same time they also wrote the book on “How Not to Make and Expansion”. It takes time to tell you all the good and the bad when it comes to an MMORPG. These games are huge in scope and World of Warcraft is the biggest. With that said,...tune in next time --- same bat channel for more of my Cataclsym review.
My Thoughts on Cataclysm -- part 2 <<<< clicky