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World of Warcraft Portal Removal in 8.1.5 Sparks a Firestorm of Controversy

Suzie Ford Updated: Posted:
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While World of Warcraft v8.1.5 adds a lot of new content, it also is removing things from the game. In this case, many of the portals that get players around Azeroth in a timely fashion are being taken out to keep "the world having a meaningful size". However, this design decision has sparked a massive backlash with the community, with several threads topping the 5,000 response mark. A new dev post acknowledges the outcry but essentially says, "Sorry, not sorry. We're sticking to it."

Portal rooms are being added in Stormwind and Orgrimmar that will take players to a number of locations and will additionally "clean up" messy portal locations in, for instance, the Cleft of Shadows. However, a number of portal locations are being removed:

  • Legion Dalaran
  • Shrine of the Seven Stars / Two Moons (Mists of Pandaria)
  • Northrend Dalaran
  • Stormwind / Orgrimmar clean up, some removed

The goal is to drive all, or most, traffic through capital cities but some players feel that eliminating these portals takes away convenience in travel to older locations for farming mogs and mounts.

A case in point is the Legion Dalaran portal to the Caverns of Time. Once its portal is removed, players will have to find alternate means to get there, none of which are "timely" and involve long flights. (You can read more about the upcoming portal situation at WoWhead.)

After the announcement that portals would be removed, and after devs requested specific feedback about the decision, players took to the official forums and threads on the topic topped 6,000 comments, the vast majority objecting to the changes. Late last night, Community Manager "Kalvax" posted lengthy thoughts that acknowledged that devs had seen the outcry, but that they were standing by the decision:

As we read most everything posted here (and elsewhere) about next week’s content update, we can’t help but be impacted by the subject of transportation portal removal. It’s a subject that’s approaching 5000 replies in one thread alone, and the question raised there, repeatedly, has been, “why?” Here’s the answer to that question.

From the beginnings of World of Warcraft, game designers have had a number of guiding principles. Sometimes these notions change quickly, and sometimes they evolve slowly, but a few guiding principles have remained more or less the same throughout WoW’s history. One such lodestar has been “don’t overuse portals between locations in the world”. Too many eliminations of the distances between places can diminish a sense of the world having a meaningful size.

Of course there’s an equal and opposite design consideration—“don’t make it too inconvenient to get from most places to most other places”. Some amount of convenience is vital. Not every visit to a wondrous landscape is your first. We know when it’s your 100th visit, you don’t want the flight over to be the bulk of your time spent. And of course, some players have chosen to play as Warlocks or Mages specifically because those classes offer unique means of transport.

The community's reaction has been swift and strong. The thread created less than eight hours ago has already scored over 1500 posts, most reacting negatively. Some question why remove the portals at all. Others wonder why "random changes like this" are targeted over more crucial issues such as class design and grind.

Typical feedback that seems to embody most of the negative reaction:

I am literally at a loss for words here…all the feedback you have been given says leave it alone and dont remove the portals…ALL of it says this is a bad idea and we dont want it…so why go ahead?

You asked us for feedback and we said no dont do it. Yet here you are telling us its going ahead anyway.

I am…at a loss to understand why you are going against the very feedback you asked for.

At this point, the decision remains as-is, though players continue to offer commentary.

You can check out the still growing thread on the World of Warcraft forum.


Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom