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World of Warcraft Column: Can Old Be New Again?

By William Murphy on July 06, 2012

I remember fondly my first foray into World of Warcraft. Anyone who once played the game and says they don’t have any good memories about it, is probably lying through their teeth in an effort to darken a once happy past the way a person will when thinking of an ex-lover.  And while it’s been a while since I was fully devoted to Azeroth the way I once was, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever “go back” and dig in again. As we near the inevitable launch of Mists of Pandaria, a highly controversial expansion on this site if there ever was one, I wonder if it will be enough to bring me back and make me smile at the prospect of exploring WoW again, or if those days are just simply over.  I imagine I’m not the only one trying to make that distinction.

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With games like The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, Planetside 2 and so many others coming out over the next few months and into next year all trying to push the boundaries of what an MMO can be, I wonder if there’s still a place for the traditional theme park that is World of Warcraft. It’s likely still massive subscription count, though not what it once was is enough to keep Blizzard’s behemoth at the forefront of MMO gaming even if the hardcore folks like us no longer spend every day talking, thinking, and dreaming about it.  But for how long? Can it ever take someone like myself, someone who’s long since begun exploring new worlds with newer mechanics, and bring me back into the same sense of love and adoration I once had for a world called Azeroth?

To get me more than just a little salivating when it comes to WoW, there are certain things I’d want to see added to the game. I’ll lay out just a few below, and feel free to post your own. Or, if you prefer, just flat out tell us why you can’t or won’t ever go back to Blizzard’s game. Maybe for you, the past has passed and that’s all there is to the thing. In any case, here are a few features or tweaks to the existing game that could get my ears to perk up again.

World PVP… Done Right This Time

Back when WoW launched, my favorite thing to do (even on a PVE server) was to go out with my guild and cause some ruckus in places like South Shore. Tarren Mill is a thing of legend for pre-Battleground players. We remember what it was like to fight just for the sake of fighting, and while Blizzard never seemed able to capitalize on this unintended competitive “feature” word is that Mists of Pandaria’s first real content patch post launch is aiming squarely at bringing world PVP back to the forefront of the game.

Mentor Me, Mentor You (and some AA please)

I know a large portion of the player base is sitting at the cap, but there’s nothing less fun than raising an alt solo while your guild mates spend time at the top tiers unable to really help you. Rift recently added mentoring, alongside its alternate advancement system for capped players, and it works marvelously to bring higher players together with lower level players. Plus, if you’re like me and just want to work on one character at a time, having both a mentoring system and an Alternate Advancement system would be the bee’s knees. I could revisit old content and still work on my character without feeling like I was wasting my time.

Open World Content on a Grand Scale

There’s plenty of small solo and group content in WoW. More than most games will ever hope to have, really. But it seems like Blizzard is content not paying attention to others games’ successes lately and I wonder why they haven’t tried to bring forth some of their own “Dynamic Content” a la Rift or the upcoming Guild Wars 2. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Blizzard is great at taking other folks’ systems and implementing them in their own way. I would love to see some sort of open world dungeons, boss fights and all. I would also love to see a zone where invasions happen the way they once did with Ahn’Qiraj, only this time preferably without the zone crashing.  While they are just as repetitive as any form of theme-park content when played endlessly, the best feature of a game like Rift is that sense of massive group play you get when you sign up for Instant Adventure or partake in a zone invasion. It’s something I’d absolutely love to see happen in Pandaria’s elder game content.

Anyway, those are just a few things that would peak my interest in World of Warcraft again one day. I know we’ll be getting the first with Pandaria, so maybe we’ll get lucky and get a few others before this decade is over. What are your thoughts?

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