Critiquing the Latest Update
The new patch for World of Warcraft has arrived, and there are plenty of mixed feelings about the changes made. It has certainly touched many aspects of the game, but some specific sections have felt earth-shaking change. While I'm sure there are countless opinions on the technical aspects of the various tweaks each class received, I want to give a more specific look at certain aspects that would draw a console gamer into WoW - aspects that drew me in to begin with.
Twinkies are Bad for You
The Twink argument has gone on for quite some time now, and they've been what I would consider a nasty plague upon Battlegrounds. Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin really weren't too fun when someone just a few levels above you has an amazing maximum HP count and can hit harder than six attacking mobs at once. One on one fights were an absolute terror for me no matter what the class because I simply couldn't launch a hard enough assault for it to matter in the end. I would try as many times as I could to take these players on and attempt to complete the goal, but they got the best of me every time.
I didn't even know what a Twink was at the time. It wasn't until a fellow guildie asked what the guild's stance on Twinks was that I found out the horrifying existence of these things. While this may seem like a normal, common thing for the seasoned WoW fan, a guy who is used to online console gaming where everyone starts off on the same foot aside from maybe a few advanced perks or weapons ala Call of Duty 4 sees this as a nightmare. I didn't believe the guy at first simply because the very idea of a Twink seemed completely ludicrous to me, but I later saw a guild that was specifically recruiting Twinks advertising in Stormwind the next day. This console gamer's nightmare was a reality.
I can understand the existence of issues in the early life of a game, but I really have to wonder how these guys continued to ravage Battlegrounds years after WoW was released. I fully believe that these guys are a severe issue when people talk about Battlegrounds, and I'm glad to see that Blizzard finally came up with a way to limit the amount of Twinks in Battlegrounds at least.
The experience in Battlegrounds idea was brilliant for two reasons. As I've stated before, I absolutely love playing these modes - Alterac Valley now being my favorite. I love the online console game feel that they bring, and I love the competition. The addition of experience in BG has chased away the majority of the Twinks and reset the imbalance that we were feeling before. It feels far more balanced now, and I have tons of fun trying to win as many different BGs as possible. I can even go head to head with characters above my level and get a killing blow or stand a decent chance. Running a flag in Warsong Gulch sounds far more possible now, and defending in Arathi Basin doesn't sound like a suicide mission.
Battlegrounds experience also adds another way to play for those who don't feel like questing all the time. Questing used to be the absolute best way to gain experience and gold - with dailies being the best - but now we have a choice. I choose to play Alterac Valley over questing simply because the experience comes faster, and, again, I love the competition. I love the challenge of seeing what I can do in intense situations.
But, unfortunately, it can't all be positive. The Battlegrounds experience also brings one nasty group that is slowly becoming the norm: what I like to call "experience ninjas." These individuals like to come into Battlegrounds - normally AV - and either go AFK from time to time or just run around and randomly fight the enemy players. They have no desire to do anything productive in the BG; they are there to gain experience from the work of others. These guys can usually be pinpointed early in the game by pointless comments or unnecessary spam. They're usually the ones who keep trying to capture the same area alone when they know that there's plenty of defense to kill them.
Rides on the Cheap
Many players were upset when they learned that all of the mounts and riding proficiencies were going to be lowered in both level and cost, and I can understand their frustrations. It does suck to work so hard to get your mounts and riding just to find out that it's going to be quicker and cheaper to get in a month or two. It feels like Blizzard is simply making the game easier to appease newer players or those who don't have as much time to put into their characters, and that's not exactly a positive feeling - this is coming from someone who has been playing for less than four months.
World of Warcraft has been accused time and time again of being the MMO for the lazier players who really don't want to work as hard for their levels or rewards, and I can't say that this is a good way of deflecting that criticism with a straight face. If one thinks about it, the changes in this latest patch are actually proving the critics to be right. The players who feel slighted by these changes may also decide to pursue other MMOs - like I've heard several threaten to do - and there is a slew of new, interesting MMOs coming out in the future.
These changes do help new players and those who wish to create alts, but the entire thing feels like something that should have been done to begin with it. They've lowered the bar on things in the past, and lowering it again hasn't really improved morale for their core customer base from what I've seen. There are lots of angry, bitter players.
Balance the Furies
While a completely balanced game seems to be more or less impossible to obtain, Blizzard can at least try to get closer to it. It feels as if they've done just that with the new patch, and I'm glad to see it. I've seen my fiancee's Warlock improve in PvP where she once lacked, and I've noticed that my retribution Paladin isn't able to single-handedly demolish entire continents anymore. I'm glad to see that Exorcism is usable in PvP once again, and I personally don't mind the fact that it charges now. I've noticed that it doesn't always charge once I do one or two moves on a target. That's strange.
The overpowered haven't been entirely tamed by the update either. All that was ever mentioned before the patch was the might of the Death Knight and Paladin combo. Despite the fact that these two have been slightly stifled by the update, they've hardly been shackled. I still find it common to see a slew of Death Knights and Paladins dominating the top of the killing blow and total damage charts, and this is still the single most popular team choice for 2vs2. I'm glad to see that fairness is a priority with this update, but I wonder if it is enough.
Overall, I like what the patch has done except for a few blemishes that probably should have been given a second thought. Perhaps I'm being a little too optimistic though. I've played World of Warcraft for less than six months, and I've never experienced such a large update before. What was your reaction to the changes? Is the aftermath a positive or a negative for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to reply to this article.