Is Blizzard’s Cataclysm the Worst Expansion in MMO History?

by Wolfshead on January 17, 2011

There’s an aging corpulent MMO dinosaur that is lumbering under the weight of its own arrogance and sloth. This MMO has grown too big for its environment and is due for imminent extinction. This is the golden MMO that can do no wrong and even claims it has 12 million subscribers. If you haven’t guessed by now this MMO is called World of Warcraft.

For years now I have been warning the MMO community about an impending cataclysm resulting from misguided game developers who have seen fit to substitute fundamental MMO design virtues with dumbed-down game play and assorted parlor tricks. So it’s something of a fitting coincidence that we have an expansion by that very name.

I recently sampled a month of gameplay in Blizzard’s new WoW expansion Cataclysm and the result left me with all the exhilaration of riding an escalator in a shopping mall.

If you are acquainted with my past articles about WoW, you know this article will not hold anything back. Luckily, I’m not on the payroll of gaming magazine nor am I desperate for a job in the video game industry, so I can afford to be brutally honest.

Cataclysm as a Concept

Everything looks great on paper. Way back when Cataclysm was first unveiled to the public back at BlizzCon 2009, I believed the idea was sound. But the way things play out often differs from the initial concept. Briefly let’s examine the basis for this WoW expansion.

One of the major selling points for Cataclysm was that the original areas of WoW needed to be updated to reflect current design tools and the high level of craftsmanship of the quest team. It was also thought that creating a new WoW would provide more accessibility for future new players and ensure profitability for many years to come. Both admirable ideas if they could pull it off.

The problem was in the execution.

Designed by The Children’s Television Workshop

It’s almost as if someone has kidnapped the game designers at Irvine and replaced them with childcare workers. Azeroth which used to be somewhat exciting and marginally dangerous has become so kid friendly and idiot proof that you’d think you are wandering around in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood looking for a lemonade stand.

First you have the Worgen, Blizzard’s ace in the hole “cool” marketing feature. This new Alliance race that looked great in concept art ends up looking absurd and comical in practice. Imagine your family pet standing on its hind legs running around with full plate armor, sword and shield. Oops! The cartoon dog Scooby Doo looks more threatening than the Worgen which is really a nod to the popularity of the Underworld and Twilight genres. The fake British accents don’t help much either.

Then you have their Horde counterparts, the Star Trek Ferengi inspired goblins with their ridiculously flamboyant starting zone that puts a stake through the heart of any semblance of high fantasy that WoW ever had. At least the goblins don’t look as preposterous as the Worgen.

Just when you think Blizzard has jumped the shark they keep finding bigger sharks to jump.

Random Cataclysm Observations

Blizzard the world leader in MMOs has produced quite possibly the worst expansion in MMO history with levels 1-85 being utterly devoid of any semblance of challenge or intensity. Mob density has been nerfed to almost nothing in outdoor zones and in those occasional outdoor mini-dungeons; killing these mobs takes zero skill as player power has reached all-time heights in WoW.

Leveling too has become utterly trivialized. One of my characters stopped killing mobs completely and “earned” levels by gathering herbs and mining ore. It’s a wonder they don’t just start all new characters off at level 80. I’m sure this will be in the works for the next expansion as they unveil their new hero class as a final act of desperation to bribe players.

The new profession Archeology is so tedious and silly that it makes watching paint dry seem exciting.

Familiar and sentimental zones like Loch Modan, have been destroyed and replaced with desolate ugliness. The Forsaken lands have undergone an architecture makeover that makes them look like more like Disney’s Haunted Mansion then a maligned and tragic race trying to find its place in the world.

The new Uldum zone is highly derivative and comes across like some kind of Egyptian/Biblical theme park complete with every desert cliché found in those old Hollywood movies. I constantly found myself looking over my shoulder to see if Ben Hur was behind me in a chariot or Lawrence of Arabia was riding into battle.

What Goes Around Has Finally Come Around

The problems we see in Cataclysm didn’t transpire overnight. Like some deranged madman bent on suicide, Blizzard has destroyed everything that was good and noble about MMOs and seemingly wants to take the entire genre with it into existential oblivion.

Cataclysm is the end result of a MMO design by numbers philosophy inspired by the wishes of accountants and avarice of shareholders. This is one picnic basket of childish quests and facile gameplay expressly designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator out there.

Maybe Blizzard thinks that new players are rather stupid and need to be held by the hand as they progress though WoW. This kind of underestimation of the abilities of new players is so pervasive that WoW has devolved into a perpetual tutorial that lasts 85 undeserved levels.

But suddenly it changes at the level cap. WoW puts on the brakes and comes to a screeching halt. It reaches puberty and starts to become a real MMO that requires grouping — so much for a seamless transition.

For the vast majority of what constitutes WoW, the following is true: the challenge is gone, the risk is gone, the suspense is gone. the wonder is gone, and the immersion — well it left town years ago. It’s one big Bacchanalian orgy of advancement and rewards. Eventually players become immune to this mindless routine and have realized that gear and levels mean nothing. So they leave. This is why Blizzard needs a steady influx of new players to replace them.

WoW and the clones that it has spawned have become like whited sepulchers — pretty graphics on the outside and with precious little of value in the inside.

A Lesson in Unintended Consequences Blizzard Style

Recently flawed design including the Trojan Horse of all MMO features — the Dungeon Finder — has resulted in the mechanization and trivialization of the beloved dungeon crawl. Dungeons have become nothing more than mob and loot conveyor belts designed to dole out instant gratification to mute loot addicted participants culled from various servers.

But the greatest sin of all is that the Blizzard has single-handedly created the worst community in MMO history after all. Everyone’s a perpetual stranger in this strange land. Players no longer talk to each other and when they do it consists of trash talking because they can get away with it due to lax policy enforcement and “we want you back” Blizzard overtures to suspended players.

Players are wise to the reality that being outgoing, friendly and polite has no value in WoW all thanks to the geniuses on the Dungeon Finder development team.

You’d almost think that Blizzard feels that socialization and camaraderie are liabilities that should be removed from MMOs altogether.

Blizzard Has Created a Gamer Culture of Entitlement

It gets worse, it always does. The players through no fault of their own have become virtual slackers addicted to a steady drip feed of rewards. Shooting fish in a barrel would require too much skill for today’s average WoW player. People don’t want to work for anything anymore; they feel entitled. They want achievements for just showing up and Blizzard is only too happy to oblige.

To illustrate how bad things are, recently one of the lead designers Greg Street posted a blog article entitled Wow, Dungeons are Hard! where he responds to the thousands of WoW players that are finding heroic dungeons too difficult. While I have no personal opinion of Cataclysm’s heroic dungeons, Blizzard is finding itself suffering a major backlash from its subscribers. There have been over 12,000 replies to his blog article so far and for every one player supporting Street there are two opposing him.

While I agree philosophically with Greg Street that there should be challenge in a MMO it’s far too late to start implementing it now; that horse left the proverbial barn years ago.

Something tells me that the designers are Blizzard in their heart of hearts know that their MMO has become a joke, so in order to compensate for their guilt and shame they’ve create overly hard heroic dungeons to convince themselves that in some small little area of Toyland, there are still a few parts that are require skill.

I genuinely feel sorry for many of those casual gamers that are upset with Blizzard. It’s not their fault what has happened. They are hapless victims of the reeling excesses of Blizzard schizophrenic game design.

Blizzard you get the players you deserve. But they don’t deserve you.

Years of pandering to solo gamers at the expense of creating a cohesive community by discouraging grouping has created the least skilled players in MMO history. Shallow game design that sacrificed everything that made MMOs unique and special on the altar of profits and expediency has taken its toll.

If Blizzard applied the same principles that it used in the formation of WoW players and administered them to the military or any professional sports team, those organizations would have collapsed by now due to failure and incompetence. Every copy of WoW should come with this warning on the box:

Playing WoW will make you a worse gamer than you are now. After prolonged exposure players have been found to exhibit anti-social tendencies.

The Donut that Turned Into a Pancake

The real culprit here is a corporate philosophy that is based on growth. Subscriber growth. Blizzard’s policy has been to keep expanding the outer edges of its famous donut philosophy with marginal players of lesser skill and lesser time availability in order to get more profits. The result is a flattened pancake instead of a donut.

WoW is desperately trying to be too many things to too many people. There is no social or skill level cohesion in the current WoW player base and the middle can no longer hold as evidenced by the current player malaise and community disharmony. Communities cannot survive when their members have so little in common.

Figures Lie and Liars Figure

Sales figures do not accurately predict the quality of a product. In Blizzard’s case, the quality of this product was not readily apparent until the customer had purchased it, experienced it and couldn’t ask for a refund. This explains why so many WoW subscribers feel so betrayed right now. They realize they’ve been suckered and duped by empty promises and over-zealous marketing.

Some may legitimately say that I haven’t experienced enough of Cataclysm to prove my assertion that it’s the worst expansion in MMO history. I would reply that you don’t need to fall into a sewer to know that it stinks and is full of waste. While it may not be the absolute worst MMO expansion technically, there is no excuse for Blizzard as they should be held to a higher standard. They are the world leader in MMO production and have vast resources at their disposal to create the very best content possible and they have failed.

Conclusions Galore

Is Cataclysm the worst expansion in MMO history? To date, I believe it is. Only history can make that judgment. If anything, Cataclysm is the culmination and fruition of 6 years of Blizzard growing the MMO demographic by consistently dumbing-down gameplay and now the chickens have come home to roost with the current debacle that is WoW. Azeroth has become a consequence free wasteland of triviality where players have almost no way left to carve out identity and meaning for themselves.

Even if I concede that the original WoW was a MMO masterpiece in its own right albeit with flaws, the new version is akin to someone spraying graffiti on top of the canvas. Anything that was great about WoW has been erased and replaced with childish scribbling. The time has come to move on.

There’s a scene in the recent HBO series The Pacific where American soldiers who’ve been on a much deserved shore leave in Australia after some major bloody campaigns are one day summoned back from their leave and made to march 100 miles back to town. At the end of this forced march, the soldiers were exhausted, sore and blistered but were rightfully toughened up for the difficult challenges that their superiors knew lay ahead.

This is exactly what the MMO player base needs right now. We need a return to an mature adult MMO mindset that isn’t designed to appeal primarily to school children. We need to find and support a new MMO company that has the guts and leadership to do the right thing and puts the game/world first and profits last — don’t worry Mr. Corporate Suit Investor Guy — profits will naturally follow quality every time.

MMO companies need to stop insulting the intelligence and potential of their players. Stop creating single-player games and calling them MMOs so you can charge monthly subscription fees. Stop fabricating phony PVP contrivances like battlegrounds. Start trusting your players with more freedom instead of less. Start encouraging cooperation and socialization once again. Stop copying each other and come up with something original; game designers stop being so lazy.

It’s high time for the MMO industry to grow up.

While it’s far too late for Blizzard to change WoW, it’s not too late for new MMOs like RIFT, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, EverQuest 3 and even 38 Studios upcoming title to offer up a serious MMO experience. It’s time for the industry to man up, show some courage and start innovating for a change. It’s not going to be easy and you may even have to think outside the box but goodness knows this genre desperately needs it.

-Wolfshead

{ 119 comments… read them below or add one }

Arcade January 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

So, as I read your article, I just couldn’t resist sharing my thoughts.
I think that this article may sum up your entire “Love to bitch/hate Blizzard” attitude, and in perticular – your rediculous hyperbole and exaggerations..
“The worst MMO to date?” Hardly. Have you ever played Darkfall? Or perhaps even Age of Conan? Cataclysm shits aaaaall over these, both community-wise and quality-wise.
Perhaps then, deep down you meant “Worst WoW expansion.”
Well, to that i merely implore you and the rest of the bitching community to cast off your rose-tinted glasses, as they seem to be impeding your memory. Every single expac so far has been released to controversy, and criticism.. yet the things you seem to focus on for Cataclysm seem to contradict what the general concensus is.
Cataclysm has been highly praised for its combination of fantastic design, especially for a 6 year old game, coupled with a refreshing sense of humour. Heroics are also suitably hard, and for most are not exactly what you’d call “loot conveyor belts”
They’ve introduced fun new mechanics, especially to the casual gamer who’d rarely experience the raiding scene…
Overall – I’m afraid your argument is a bit of a fail :P

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dewayne February 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Actually he’s not and your the type of player he’s talking about. Mr blizzard fanboy

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Graham February 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I’d have to disagree with just about every single statement that you made Arcade. The only exception would be the part about “Worst WoW” expansion ever, which I would agree with. I have been playing Warcraft since it came out and this blog basically sums up just about everything that I’ve felt for the last few years. You are trying to argue about “fantastic design” and “refreshing sense of humour” but no where in this article did he even tlak about either of those topics. The game is going to complete crap and has been on the decline ever since WotLK. As much as I like the convience of cross server BG’s and dungeons, they completely ruined WoW. Nobody cares about winning the battleground anymore or actually finishing a dungeon. I think most of the people continue playing WoW because there really isn’t any other good MMO’s out there. Leveling is extremely easy and grants no satisfaction or sense of accomplishment. I was able to level from 80 to 85 in two days. It’s time for a new game that is actually challenging.

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Lomax February 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

“I think most of the people continue playing WoW because there really isn’t any other good MMO’s out there.”

While I’ll give it credit that WoW does have high production standards its sheer size is a big positive factor when you compare it from one MMO to another.

If a player has to choose between two MMO’s, one which all his friends play and another that his friends do not then the one with the bigger userbase will have a big advantage here.

Even worse most WoW players probably do not know about the other MMO’s out there, some think Everquest 2 came out after WoW for example. I bet a tiny fraction have heard of DAOC etc.

For any MMO to compete its a tough job, even if they do a great job in getting a player to try their game then unless they are really hooked (e.g. the MMO offers something very different and niche, e.g. Eve, or an aspect of a game really gets them hooked – me in EQ2) then the player is likely to get pulled back socially to where their friends are.

I can see this happening with Rift, I think despite WAR and AOC’s problems I’m betting that a lot of their lost subscribers were lost because they were pulled back socially into WoW. So my prediction with Rift will be a big uptake, and followed by a big flow back, we can sit back and watch for that one.

John Smedley recently put out an interesting post where he gave a answer on what he thought the big WOW-slayer would be, he said there wouldn’t be a game that kills WOW. Instead he sees more and more MMO’s appearing with a decent userbase each (he cited Eve and EQ2) and death by a thousand cuts for WoW.

Personally I completely agree with him there too, WOW won’t go overnight, but I reckon it will slowly get smaller over the years as other MMO’s setup.

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Alekos July 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Arcade: the problem is, the heroics ARE easy and you can steamroll them after several playthroughs. There is not enough content and the easiness of leveling gives you no attachment to your character[s]. The gear is meaningless, and the dungeon finder obliterates any semblance of immersion there once was. Now all we do is sit in a main city and wait for queues. [i unsubbed]

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Jaynah February 23, 2011 at 2:42 am

Typical fanboy rebuttal. Social reject. You are the fail. Get some sunshine.

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tumama March 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

“The worst MMO to date?” Hardly. Have you ever played Darkfall? Or perhaps even Age of Conan? Cataclysm shits aaaaall over these, both community-wise and quality-wise.”

Really? I played wow for 6 years and I quit just 4 months ago when they ruined it with cata.
Yes I have played Age of conan and I think it is a very good game right now. Read the reviews for GS you ignorant fool.
Commuty? if there’s something you shouldnt talk about is WOWs community, it is the worst crap ever, annoying, childish, full of hate and arrogance.
I coudnt agree more with the author of this article, wow is falling down by the weight of it’s own failure (golf clap for activision-blizz)
And to help it fall now we have a whole new gereration of strong games that will thankfully contribute to kill wow -finally- (note that I am not saying they will kill it,no it will kill itself, but they will be the nails to seal the coffin) -Rift, Tera, SW, B&S, GW2….
Farewell to your “fantastic” praised game (what money can do these days to improve reviews, READ REAL reviews at Amazon.com from real players like me, and not from blizz staff or blind fanboys like yourself.

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Asmiroth January 26, 2011 at 8:07 am

Is it not just simpler to accept the fact that WoW isn’t build for the original target audience anymore? I don’t like farmville but millions of people do. Millions of people play WoW and only small fraction actually play the end game.

If memory serves, Arthas was killed a but less than 500,000 times just before Cata came out. Think about that. There are 12 million players in WoW and through all that, the most powerful boss at the time was only killed 500,000 times after 6 months of being available and a 30% buff to everyone’s stats. Realistically, that’s about 2-3% of the entire population of players.

Blizzard is part of Activision and they have made it clear that money is more important that minute quality. If 90% of your player base will never see the end game, why would you care if it was balanced or not? Especially if that 90% is paying you 100,000,000$ a month. If everyone who read this blog and all of their friends quit WoW today, they wouldn’t even make a scratch in their bottom line.

Is WoW two games in one? The leveling aspect and then the grouping aspect? Yup. Is it a bad thing? Not if it brings in money. Could it be improved? Surely but only if there’s money to be made doing so.

The days of altruistic game developers are gone when you look at games with massive appeal. This is the same thing with big corporations. The bigger you are, the more generic you become and the less niche you can afford to be.

WoW has evolved, apparently, some players have not accepted that fact.

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Sthenno January 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I think talking about Activision and profits is a sideshow. The desire to expand the player base could just as easily be explained by the developers just really liking their game and wanting more people to experience it. I’m sure directors want people to see their movie and authors want people to read their books, but whether this is because of money or because of a simple desire to share what they made is irrelevant. Saying that they are making the game worse for profit demonizes the developers, but I don’t think we have any compelling reason to think it’s true.

That’s what I didn’t like about this post: Blaming the money, complaining that things were too easy (when aside from roguelikes I can’t think of any RPG that wasn’t easy to level – some were just more time consuming than others), saying that archaeology is boring when I find it fun. The problem with Cataclysm, as I think that you suggest in your comments more than in the article, is that WoW has become two separate games: a single player RPG where other people happen to be around and the raiding game. There is very little connection between them. Since I like the raiding game I continue to play WoW, but if I didn’t like raiding or if my friends stopped wanting to raid with me then I would probably stop playing entirely. Because of this problem, I think you may have a valid reason for suspecting that Cataclysm will be a period of decline for the game. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in your own ideas – I have absolutely no idea what motivates the vast majority of WoW players, and they may be having a great time in Cataclysm.

But I think Blizzard is a very adaptive company, and if things are going wrong in Cataclysm they will try to figure out what those things are and fix them. The worry when trying to fix things is that you either don’t understand what the problem is so you try to fix the wrong thing, or that you create more problems than you solve. I think that in Wrath they were really going in the wrong direction and that in Cataclysm they are going in the right direction but fumbling some things as they do. I’m pretty hopeful for the future of WoW because of that.

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ledger July 8, 2011 at 7:05 am

Good post. Especially the initial paragraph. But here’s something to consider.

It’s incredibly weird that with all the resources and the playerbase they have to work with, they ONLY, ONLY choose to invest in these types of cheap tricks to fool this new type “gamer” into buying their product. Achievements systems and LFDs and the like.

There is such potential everywhere in the game to turn garbage into flowers with such minor tweaks. It’s not a one-huge-realm system either, so they could easily create a bunch of new realms that have a completely different ruleset, one that’s more engaging to the veteran MMO players. By investing even the most minimal effort and money into developing realms that cater to the real MMO enthusiasts and the other loyal customers they have had, maybe the tone of these posts would be slightly less hateful.

Like Smee T points out the question below “Everyone remember when there was meant to be a huge underground zone in WOTLK following what was established in WC3?”

This sends us the clear message of “We honestly don’t give an ef about the quality of the game anymore”. And it makes my blood boil.

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Snail January 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I will admit straight away that I came to WoW in the later days of Burning Crusade and so capped during Wrath. Regardless, much of what you say resonates. If you strip away the inflammatory and examine the points of contention, much of what you point to is undeniably true.

WoW morphed from being a thinking persons game to being a game for the masses. In seeking a larger audience, there was really nowhere for the bar to go but down. I mourn the loss of one corner of geekdom to the Walmart denizens. Instead of setting a challenge for people (to engender a sense of pride and accomplishment at the resolution of difficulties and solving problems), Blizzard instead removed the challenge and turned WoW into electronic pablum.

We ought to have seen what was coming once they dumbed down the starter areas; that was just the thin edge of the wedge.

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smee, T January 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Wouldn’t say that exactly. I think Blizzard assumed what its audience wanted. WoW as it was, was fine. The massive amount of WoW fandom came during Vanilla and TBC, yet Blizzard still felt the need to change it and hence it hasn’t seen the same type of growth. Did Blizzard change it for ‘Walmart people’, sure, but it never worked. It became popular because it had amazing balance between easy-to-get-into yet hard-to-master to start with, but sadly Blizzard removed the later. Hard-to-master factor was its massive world, many secrets, and so on. Yet Blizzard was taken in by other gaming ideas such as achievements and focused development on crap like that.

Everyone remember when there was meant to be a huge underground zone in WOTLK following what was established in WC3? Yet we only ever saw some minor instances? That is because of achievements. Same with the fact that there was no proper endgame in WOTLK. Of course Blizzard could have employed more people to get these things done with their billions, but they obviously didn’t feel that it mattered.

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Stefan July 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I simply cannot comprehend what is your problem you idiot ignorant people?
you do NOT like a GAME(MMO or not) you DONT play it.as Simple as that.Its all black and wait.
Go play everquest or something :D
i don’t even play on blizzard’s official server’s and i have plenty of reason’s to dislike(note not hate)what they*sometimes* do.
As for constateniously paying money for a game.Though,that even proves how loved this game is,you even pay money to play it EACH MONTH ,thats the kind of game you people *think* you hate.

The truth is nowone hates it,you just bitch about a game that can’t offer everything on a plate for you,but thing’s remain black and white.
You don’t like it you DON’T play it.And i seriously doubt that any1 that ever player wow,and stopped,will stop for good,despite the fact they sayd they stopped,they will start playing again.This is how much this game”sucks”.

Most fail MMO?id say best MMO
p.s. go back to everquest : ))))

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PT Barnum July 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I stopped playing for good. Going on 7 months now.

Now, will you apologize for being an idiot?

And quit pretending that people had a whole lot of choices. Or even that the designers were allowed to do what they wanted. Or even the original founders of Blizzard.

Sociopaths working for people whose families have been rich for generations made these choices. As should be obvious if you weren’t an idiot.

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Doorknob January 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Ive been playing since the end of vanilla and I agree with a few of your points but I’m sorry to say I can’t with some of your others. First of all I definately believe that the social aspect has been destroyed and I truly miss that. It seems that all the players are just out for numero uno now. I realized the other day how rare it was to meet a genuinely nice and generous person, when in nilla it was required for people to have a chance at even getting a group for deadmines. I also agree the maps used to be so full of wonder and enchantment. I used to fear and wonder whether a mine with a chest or a fire breathing dragon was around the corner, now I know I could just pull both and down them in a minute or two. All the zones are just jungles or rocky craters, anyways. Leveling also got too repetitive and easy, but there are a lot of cool new quests as well. They just haven’t made the same great stories they had before. Honestly, though they are fun at times, the flying mount destroyed the whole surprise of the game. You don’t have to worry about being attacked because you can just fly over them.
However, I believe the worgen and the goblins are too fun races, though the running/walking motion does make you think your going slower than you actually are. the new zones are okay too. They gave me a week or two of some well needed exploring instead of the boring zones that are in the maelstrom.
The worst mom expansion to date? Hardly, but nothing blizzard does with this work ethic will ever match up with the magical mmo experience that was the original world of Warcraft.

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camazotz January 27, 2011 at 8:55 am

Interesting read. I can’t say I agree much, as I believe that WoW is not shooting for the hardcore MMO demographic that comprises a small percentage of the overall potential market for casual MMO gamers. As was said in an earlier reply, asking Blizzard to focus on a specific segment of the market is equivalent to complaining that Farmville isn’t including the hardcore gamer demographic in its design philosophy. Although I’ve been with WoW since its inception, I am under no illusions that Blizzard is oblivious to who is paying their bills; the casual solo crowd is obviously relevant to WoW, and they are clearly doing their best to develop a game that somehow tries to juggle between the very large number of casual or limited-time gamers who prefer a more relaxed game environment with the more traditional but smaller crowd of hard core elite gamers who are desperate for something to sink vast amounts of time and effort in to. Whether you’re one of those guys who managed to hit the 85 level cap a week after Cataclysm’s release, or someone like me who’s just hit level 82 (from level 80) after two months from day of release, they still want our money; but making the game primarily for only one type of gamer (hardcore) over the other (solo casual) is going to alienate the other. It’s pretty clear that they’ve figured out that someone like me who takes six years to get two characters to level cap is worth a lot more than the guy who plays 6-12 hours a day and exhausts the experience after six months or less.

As for the community, I’d really like to agree, because it is atrocious, and what I liken to the “Football crowd” of computer gaming, but the sad truth is you’ll find degenerates in almost all MMOs. These days, I consider it a major plus when an MMO doesn’t cap the number of numbskulls I can put on my squelch/ignore list. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an easy fix for this; for an MMO to exist, it’s inevitably going to attract a deranged crowd, whether it has one hundred thousand susbcribers or twelve million, it seems like the percentage of trolls and loons remains the same, unfortunately. If anything WoW’s only edge is that there are so many that they no longer stand out of their own vitriolic buzz, and the easiest method for squelching them is to simply turn off general chat.

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Boxlers January 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Great post. As with any, your rhetoric is over the top, but that doesn’t at all change the correctness of your thoughts. For the reasons you listed above, especially the lack of choice built into the game, I have burnt out on this expansion in record time and have already started up a new game. WoLK lasted me 14 months before burnout, so it doesn’t bode well for this expansion taht it lasted only 1.5 months. I don’t even play hardcore, but mostly just don’t want AT ALL to relevel the railroad cataclysm questing experience.

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Siah January 30, 2011 at 12:44 am

Although I do believe that your overall expression is a bit much, I agree with your main points. I’ve been playing the Rift beta, as well as several other more recent MMOs, and Cataclysm. The things that astound me the most is the quality of Cataclysm, and the community now. It really doesn’t take much to notice that Blizzard did not care one bit about the product and just released it in its state. Glaring issues, such as one of the races having the incorrect sound linked to an emote is ridiculous. A pile of bugs could be understandable from a more independent company, but from a company that makes as much money, and has an endless supply of people is absurd. Even a game like Fallen Earth, which I believe has less than 100 staff in total, has less bugs.

And, I completely agree with your opinion of cross-server dungeons. For the most part, the people you get in them are either completely quiet, or total asses. Why is this? You don’t have to worry about your reputation. It used to be that if you ninja’d something in a dungeon, the whole server would hear about it, and people would hesitate on allowing you to group with them. However, now, you can ninja or be a total douche all you’d like because nobody will hear about it. Actually, I had a ninja just two nights ago who rolled need on every item in the dungeon. The kick from group system is dodgy, and so we ended up having to keep the guy the entire dungeon. On the flip-side of this, even if you find someone you truly enjoyed grouping with, it doesn’t matter. Because you won’t be able to add them to your friend’s list, and when you part ways, that’s likely the last time you’ll see them. I don’t know how people socialize in this game now. The only two ways I’m thinking are questing and raiding. And questing can all be done solo now anyways, so what the heck?

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Doone January 30, 2011 at 9:02 am

1000% what Siah just posted. The social aspect of the game is what really, really detracts from any positive things they develop. The lack of any tools or mechanisms for community accountability is perplexing to say the least. I also agree that for a company with tons more resources than indie games, it completely lacks the quality it ought to have.

I don’t think it’s the worse expansion in MMO history, not by a long shot. But it *is*, even objectively, the worst expansion of WoW point for point.

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Lomax January 31, 2011 at 11:25 am

Your comment on the dungeon finder and the problem of finding new people is spot on, all the people I met in WoW previously were either found via questing (group quests where I found my guild) or dungeon runs.

I’m intrigued now how people do socialise now, I suspect the dungeon finder is actually be killing the game, since its effects are likely going to be longterm.

As for bugs, I didn’t find an unusal amount, WoW has had long standing ones like every MMO I’ve played (cannot delete certain mailbox mails, flying mount stuck animations, chat box out of sync zoning etc). But what turns my stomache is the souless linear questing, I get frustrated sometimes when I cannot choose how I want a quest to end in EQ2, for those I cancel it and make my own mind up, one day I dream of most quests giving us tough choices to make (like those choose your own adventure books for 12 year olds!).

But not even being able to skip a quest I disagreed with or choose the order I quest in was going in a even worse direction!

Fingers crossed that WoW’s big subscriptions eventually translate into big numbers of players looking for something a bit more involving…one day.

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Lisa February 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

“Even if I concede that the original WoW was a MMO masterpiece in its own right albeit with flaws, the new version is akin to someone spraying graffiti on top of the canvas. Anything that was great about WoW has been erased and replaced with childish scribbling. ”

I played WoW when it first came out. I quit playing before Burning Crusade came out and went to college. During Wrath of the Lich King my sister started working for Blizzard and gave me and my boyfriend the gift of WoW. I had not played WoW for 4 or 5 years when I decided to pick it up again.

The people that claim the game is better weren’t there from the beginning, the people that claim it hasn’t changed that much play too often and so have grown used to the changes, the people that stopped playing for a few years and came back were thrown into a strange land where all their old friends had stopped playing and these new people acted like children….even if they weren’t. The game had changed not slightly, not mildly, but ENTIRELY. It was, for all intents and purposes, a different game.

It took me no time at all to get used to the new mechanics. The game held no difficulty for me, and it should have. I was a level 43 hunter who hadn’t touched her bow in 4 years. With the new expansions and all the changes one would think that 4 years of not playing would result in a shaky start, a little getting used to it again, perhaps the need for some practice. There wasn’t much of a shaky start, I got used to it within about a day of poking around, and screw practice! I just jumped right in while they held my hand and told me where to go!

As we were questing I had to tell my boyfriend, “You know, they didn’t USED to tell you where to go for the quests. They gave you some vague directions, told you ‘go north and look for a big rock that’s not anywhere near where you’re supposed to be’, and you had to find it on your own.” Now there are NPC’s that point you in the right direction along with a huge yellow arrow also pointing you in the right direction on your mini map, and if you can’t figure out how to follow the pointing…..they mark your map with a huge yellow dot that says “RIGHT HERE MORON”.

Cataclysm probably isn’t the worst expansion in the history of MMO’s….but then again, it seriously could be.

I’m excited for games like Rift to come out, though I will admit one thing…as sad as Blizzard has made WoW today….6 years ago it was a truly amazing game. Rift advertises itself by mocking World of Warcraft even though if there had been no WoW, there would probably be no Rift. I have never seen an advertisement for WoW or any of its expansions that mocks or makes fun of or pokes fun at any other video game, but Rift constantly mocks WoW.

The last advert I saw for it was online and stated “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”.

Clearly the makers of the game have no confidence in their title, they are worried WoW will STILL beat them out. They are worried WoW is STILL better, will STILL make more money, have more fans, do better in the industry…they are STILL afraid even though they should KNOW their game is better. I’m afraid Rift may end up just like Cataclysm….a bunch of empty promises that can’t be delivered. I’ve heard stories about how awesome the game is from beta testers…but I heard the SAME STORIES about Cataclysm from those testers.

If the game is relying on mocking it’s grandpa to sell itself, it’s probably not as good as it sounds. I’ve worked in advertising, the best products sell themselves with no need to mention any competitor.

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Ter February 3, 2011 at 12:40 am

I agree with everything you say except I don’t think it is too bad of RIFT to be mocking WoW. WoW is a behemoth that for better or worse all but redefined (some would say, subverted) the meaning of the word “MMORPG”. The creators of RIFT know that they won’t outsell WoW right off the bat. They know that even if RIFT will be heads and shoulders above WoW in terms of quality and quantity and even if all other stars will align exactly right, they will still make much less money than WoW for quite some time. They try to make the vision that RIFT is explicitly not WoW one of their selling points. I can see nothing wrong with this.

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cliff February 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I agree with every point made. Even if this wasnt the worst MMO expansion to date, it is most certainly the worst WOW expansion. The downfall of WOW for me started with the introduction of the dungeon finder. Good idea on paper, but looking at it from an RPG standpoint you’ve just taken these “real” places and turned them into something disjointed from the rest of the world, removing any feeling of being a “real” place in the world. Second with the cross server patform you remove the social aspect of the MMO, people jump into the instance, and now if someone leaves in the middle, possibly jumping into the middle of combat. There is no time to socialise and grow the community beyond smac talking, due to most of the groups formed in this way just want to push through the instance. No one’s ever going to see each other any time soon, so why socailise when theres a job to do, or in the case of dishonest players ninjaing to do with no consiquense. Also rewards for doing this allowed you to get top tier gear for no real work, destroying the natural progression of the game.

Another downfall started in LK is the last dungeon they put in Ruby sanctum. Advertised as being a major plot point, turned out there was no real plot(or loot drops from bosses). Just a bunch of dragons to kill for no real reason.
Now we come to Cata. It took 5 days to get through all the single player contenet with NONE of it being a real challenge. Total reworks on certain classes making them less fun(holy power was a stupid change to the palladin, giving rouges a self heal, taking away hunter amo, and warlock soulshards just to name a few ). Content was recycled, Deathwing and Ragnaros back(didnt we kill them in vanilla?) building used in northrend were just taken back to other areas in the old world to give them a “new look”. Experiance for swinging a pick? The most retarded idea ive seen since PVP experiance (wich makes it so players can level to max without any need for seeing the story whatsoever). Why not just start us at max and put a vendor in front of each instance saying here’s your daily loot move along.

All in all no real work was put into the story, and gameplay is dumbed to the point of bordom, equipment models look stupid, very few new models for creatures and buildings. To top it off the worst community in MMO’s that I’ve seen due to lack of socialising and shiny sindrome, with no real challenge. The worst WOW expansion to date.

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Jaynah February 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

AMEN! I completely agree with you and there’s nothing else to say. I will be so glad when this company goes to Hell for being idiots.

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Zapod March 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

World Of Warcraft is fast approaching total collapse of membership after the fiasco of Cataclysm. It is on the brink now with thousands of players switching to far better MMO’s like LOTRO and now Rift.

Whole WoW guilds are suffering massed walkouts as players cancel subscriptions. My own guild has been decimated which was previously a large hardcore raiding guild and most members have given up in disgust at the themepark WoW has become.

Other players will eventually realise their WoW subscriptions are simply feeding the cashcows of Kotick and his cronies. Servers are on the verge of closing even as we speak.

WoW’s days are numbered.

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Muckbeast March 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Not sure if your comment section logs trackbacks, so just in case:

http://www.frogdice.com/muckbeast/arrogance/is-blizzard%E2%80%99s-cataclysm-the-worst-expansion-in-mmo-history.html

In short, this post is really spot on. I especially believe Dungeon Finder has been one of the worst MMO features ever released – largely because it SEEMS like a good idea, but it is really the stake in the heart of any sense of community of virtual world.

But the title for worst MMO expansion of all time goes to Dark Age of Camelot: Trials of Atlantis, and its no contest.

They lost 2/3rds of their userbase within months of its release. That gives them the title.

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True April 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Amazing article. Well written and could not agree more with your points.

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andy April 7, 2011 at 5:48 am

100% agree with the view you take on Cata.
been a player for 6 years and Cata is the best cure for a WOW Addiction.

not logged in for over a week dont even want to log in 2 characters hit 85..then nothing.I cant be bothered leveling the others.Blizz has killed the Game Stone dead.PVP was amazing pre Cata now you can wait upto 30 mins for one Battle ground.

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Bri April 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

It’s one big Bacchanalian orgy of advancement and rewards. Eventually players become immune to this mindless routine and have realized that gear and levels mean nothing. So they leave.

That’s exactly what happened with me.

Before I go further I would like to say something. Stop caring so much about your fake accomplishments and fake experiences in a fake world that you gaze at through a monitor.

They are not your accomplishments, they are Blizzards, just as your characters, your time invested, and your money, is theirs. Your ‘successful life’ is a mass of compiled 1′s and 0′s on a server far away from you that can be taken away in an instant.

Let’s say that solar flare finally erupted and destroyed the electronics containing the data of your virtual life. Will you finally realize that it meant nothing, that it was nothing? If you started playing from the start, that is 6 years to catch up on.

Better get started.

Start focusing on accomplishing things in this world – the world that matters.

Carrying on….

I was a loyal WoW player before the game went retail (Participated in the closed/open beta and stress test), and bought the game on it’s first launch day. Now I find myself utterly bored of the game. I bought Cataclysm, got my main to 85 and a couple other characters to 83 and just… stopped. I haven’t played since and have taken up other hobbies, like making real leather armor. The game is over, the moment has passed. Finding a dungeon group is akin to the wait times at the doctor’s office, except for tanks and healers. Since their wait times are so short, they often leave if the group makes one tiny little error and if you’re DPS, your back to waiting for 45 minutes only for it to happen again.

I remember when people used to stick together and give it their best repeated shots. Now the community is full of lazy social piranhas that feed off of instant gratification with the least given effort possible.

The community now is just vile.

Since Blizzard is running out of characters to assassinate to keep WoW players happy, they are either twisting lore to put more on death row *cough*Zandalar*cough*, or coming up with uninspired foes (The trolls in Zul’Ferrak, Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman are lead by a mysterious leader named….. Zul. Real original).

Now it’s all about recycling old content (reference to above paragraph).
Step 1 – Add a couple zeroes to the health and damage of the enemies in old instances. Maybe a couple new, shiny enemy spells with bright colors as well.
Step 2 – Tag on a Heroic mode
Step 3 – Add an achievement for giving a damn and a useless pet or trinket for the WoW slaves to eat up (They love that sh*t! Anything to make them appear better than someone else)
Step 3 – Feed it to the mouth-foaming WoW slaves.

Honestly, this expansion is a slap in the face. Bring back Burning Crusade.

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Oathbreaker April 29, 2011 at 3:29 am

Totally Agree Bri.
4.1 4.2.If blizzard think just putting a sticking plaster over a deep wound is going to help..What I find amazing all the boards are full of the same thoughts and feelings yet Blizzard remain silent.

Instead of just saying what loads feel Cata was a massive mistake maybe thats the way of at least informing people who are really hacked off with the direction of the Game they have talen on board the depth of feelings.

It does make you wonder why someone in power at blizzard didnt wonder about what happens when a player hits 85.??? it seems all the thought and effort when into just the early levels and tweaking the weaker Mid levels.did they really think people would just keep making Alts over and over? because once you hit 85 this game dies so how on earth they though it would keep people playing just seems madness.

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Nollind Whachell April 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Bri, the online game environment, for the most part, is irrelevant, as you said, as it is just the social object with which people gather around. What isn’t irrelevant, however, is the social interaction that people undertake within these virtual environments. I think Scott Jennings said it best in one of his recent posts.

“MMOs are the only type of game where you can see proto-societies form, where people cooperate on a global scale to achieve their goals – they’re the type of game where people really care. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in something people care about?”

I’ve been playing online since 1996 and during that time I’ve learnt more about real life, relationships, culture, and community than I have anywhere else because I’ve been actively and socially engaged in clans and guilds. To me, these game worlds are the perfect virtual environments to test out social systems design, almost virtually risk free. And if anything, I’ve learnt more about cultivating a positive community online than I have offline within many typical corporate work environments. Actually I believe, like Jane McGonigal, that we can take many of the best social systems design elements from games and carry them over to our offline world to make our experiences all the more enjoyable in our life and work as well.

But I think this only proves the legitimacy of your latter points all the more in that creating new and different content areas (or even new MMOs with different content) isn’t providing much enjoyment for people anymore. That’s because what we’re seeking online isn’t so much new content but new types of interactive experiences. In effect, if the game mechanics are completely the same and there is no new ways to socially interact with others, particularly in a free forming self-organizing sort of way, then the world just “feels” like the same thing regurgitated in a different shell (i.e. how people are feeling about a lot of the newer MMO’s nowadays).

By all means though, I agree that the community, for the most part, is vile but only because it was cultivated this way via the recent game design changes (as discussed within another post on this site). In effect, by removing many of the barriers of the game, it also removed some of the limitations that forced people to socialize in a more positive way. For example, remember back to a time when there was no Dungeon Finder and people gathered around the openings of major dungeons (i.e. Kharazan). People were forced to socialize, connect with others, and formed new friendships in this way (hell you could have even opened up a shop to sell flasks and food!). Now though, you can’t even wait outside a dungeon anymore because everyone teleports inside and out of it via the Dungeon Finder. Thus we’ve lost a lot of these social gathering places that let people “bump” into each other and build relationships.

Again though, this is why your own local online social experiences can make or break your game experiences. I, for the most part, have always been within really positive, open, sharing, and caring clans / guilds, thus my online game experiences have always been quite positive in turn, even thought the game itself may cultivate a completely different culture (i.e. Counter-Strike is another perfect example of this).

PS. As an aside though, I think our offline culture is getting worse as well. With the plethora of mobile devices, many people are now everywhere except where they actually are. Thus we have a very disconnected and distracted society which, again as you said, wants instant gratification for everything.

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Turtle May 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

I agree with a bit of your post. Cataclysm is the worst expansion I’ve experienced, and can easily imagine it as one of the worst for any game. Most likely not the worst. Your post seems to rant on way too much about the simplistic leveling… However, this is the only thing I liked about cataclysm. The leveling was already such a tremendous joke in BC and WotLK that it should have just been removed. Nothing but a time waster. At least in vanilla it was a major portion of the game, not stale bread at a cheap restaurant.

PvP has become a joke! Truely! People actually laughed at how TERRIBLE the expansion started. People abused the (pointless) new arena system to never lose any matches and just stack wins. Rated BGs wouldn’t give you wins when you won, and sometimes wouldn’t give you any record at all. But rated battlegrounds just being implemented is garbage enough. Them alone give reason to trash PvP.

Start of expansions have always had problems for imbalances… However, Cataclysm seems to have just straight up neglected balance… I question how an expansion that had a beta lasting forever could even allow it! Mages seem to out damage most classes by spamming an instant cast with no CD and warriors can out burst any class yet outheal any non-specced class. I could continue this imbalance listing long enough till next patch… But then I’d probably have to start all over again…

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Drusas May 7, 2011 at 8:21 am

WoW. It always amazes me to see the worms crawl out of the word work when something popular or mainstream achieves a level of success that they know they never will, forcing them to rail against it like it’s some sort of anathema to their very being.

This is a video game, people. If you don’t like it, move on. If you think you can do better, then go ahead and make a better one. “The worst expansion in history”? Really? Followed up with anecdotal “evidence” as to why the game is so horrible? I mean, one opinion vs. millions of players must make your argument sound…

Listen. This game is currently the largest MMORPG out there. You don’t have to like it, but the comments here show exactly why the game is as “bad” as some of you say it is. The changes that have been implemented over the years have both negatives and positives, but what it boils down to in the end is personal preference.

Opinion.

So, your opinion is that the game is now a cesspool of fail, for all of the various reasons you gave. Okay. What if I come back with counter points detailing why I think those very things have made the game/experience more enjoyable for me? Now, I’m a “blind fanboy” and I don’t have any valid reasons or points to my statements because I’m obviously blinded by my rampant hard on for Blizzard/Kotick/what-have-you.

Do you begin to see the problem?

The problem is that the societal norms have changed drastically. 6+ years ago when WoW started, if someone had spoken ill of “the next great game”, they’d have been ostracized. Now, it’s the “in” thing to bash the most successful game out there. Sure, your personal opinion may be that the game is worse, but I can assure you (from my own personal experiences – more anecdotal evidence, see?!) that the original product was only a minor step up from the crap that came before it. Yet, over time, they improved on those old, crappy, stale MMO’s and created the most successful online game out there.

If you don’t like it, then don’t play it. No one is forcing you to do so, just like no one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to in game. There is now more choice for you (whether in game, or in another game), so exercise it! Bashing the industry standard because it’s cool only shows exactly where people’s standards are now – in every aspect of their lives.

“The dungeon finder is filled with trolls and rude children”? You don’t say…Want an “adult, mature MMORPG”? Start acting like one in every aspect of your life, and effect the change you want to happen – wherever you may be. WoW or otherwise. That is something that will make Cataclysm (or EvE online, or War, or Conan, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum) better.

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Lost May 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I must Say, Turtle. Its true, maybe the game is fun for the world ( lets say 3/4 or 2/4 of the world plays it, am just throwing random numbers, but they are close to the real ones), but as Wolfshead shared with us: It’s high time for the MMO industry to grow up. This is good, maybe for the companies and hell, for us to.

“The dungeon finder is filled with trolls and rude children”? You don’t say…Want an “adult, mature MMORPG”? Start acting like one in every aspect of your life, and effect the change you want to happen – wherever you may be. WoW or otherwise. That is something that will make Cataclysm (or EvE online, or War, or Conan, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum) better.

Well thats true, but have you realise that, even if we change of MMORPGS will be much the same? Since they all copied the WoW, model? I played since TBC and was good, I played Wrath, hated somethings, but was still good, Played Cata and leveled to 85… then its pitch black, was like…… Where am I?…. OH LOOK THE WOW CURSE is broke, and i notice it before my friends did. I must say, it has helped me on IRL alot, but at the same time opened my eyes: There are some good MMORPGS out there, but they are starting to see WoW as a blueprint for the games, This is the Problem….

Even if the Topic was: Cata is the worst expansion in MMO History?, well i think it has a place on the Top , even if ui havent played alot of MMORPGS, thats alot to say.

So Turtle, even if we change on IRL, it will be the same WoW. Infact, you could notice something new… why the people in those games arent to much polite anymore? What happen? I dont know, maybe its something on their houses or in the air…. but you notice it, when you took a time to think, right?

A poor man in a suit with a suitcase, its still a poor man, you know what i mean?

P.S: I played Runescape to, you know what is that? No? Go and read some, even if u dont play it, by reading, you will notice something: Some one told em about….. or they notice, a nice blueprint called: Wow….

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Lost May 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Sry Mr.Turtle, miss readed and used your name for Nothing, this was actually pointed to Mr.Drusas. My Humble Apologizes.

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Paul May 16, 2011 at 3:55 am

It’s amusing coming back to read this entry and the comments after a few months have passed. Even Morhaime has had to admit they’ve messed up with Cataclysm. I particularly like how some of the bloggers who praised the expansion here are now ex-WoW players.

The truth of the matter is that when the rubber meets the road and content gets harder, people quit and guilds fail. Easy is fun for the great majority of people, even for the people who claim to like difficult content. But there were enough posers and false elitists to fool even Blizzard into thinking tuning up the end game’s difficulty would be a winning move. I bet they don’t make that mistake again, in this game or any other.

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Jason S May 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

Or maybe Blizzard dug itself into its own demise by catering towards casual players for too long. Over time, this effectively drove away players who were seeking challenge in their video games. Then when Cataclysm came around, Blizzard was too late catching these players before they left for good.

Thing is Blizzard has no idea who they make games for anymore. In Vanilla they had a core group of raiders they could put out difficult content to. When that content became stale and these players left, they progressively dumbed down their game so that it eventually resembled a shell of what it once was. Now with Cataclysm, they tried to “win back” these players which was just a bad business move. Simply put, everyone knows that really the only remaining players in WoW are newer casual players or carebear raiders. It was poor decision making on Blizzards part.

Having said that, people like you who claim that there are not enough people out there seeking challenge downright upsets me. It’s because of people like you, who vocalize their opinions in such ways that MMOs will never dig themselves out of this carebear rut that they are currently in. I guarantee you are 100% wrong here.

Using Cataclysm and WoW as your basis for you argument is simply idiotic… Of course players seeking challenge in their MMOs didn’t come back to WoW for Cataclysm… they were simply burned too many times by Blizzards simplification. Why would they want to come back to a game in which they have such poor experiences?!?

Come on now… stop speaking for other people and let the genre grow.

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RyTEK May 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

Weee, “I love vanilla WoW and nothing else” – 5 years and growing!
A few points:
1. The world design has always been cliche.
2. If you have no sense of community, you are in the wrong guild.
3. The toughest achievements are not handed out like candy.
4. Dungeon finder is necessary for those that play less than 10 hours a week – you can still get owned in the actual dungeon.
5. Undead were marketed to zombie fans, orcs to fantasy fans, etc… if you don’t like a new class, don’t play it.
I digress by admitting that the game rushes you through the first 40 levels. I pick the argument back up by saying that end game is where people want to be, not stuck at lvl 22 after 3 weeks.

Sounds like you need to work on your attitude buddy.

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anathematics May 20, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Look,
I understand everything you’re saying here, as it is applicable to some aspects of WoW, but in all honesty, I think you’re just jumping on the wow haters-wagon.

First things first: OF COURSE THEY ARE AFTER OUR MONEY!

It disgusts me. Still, credit where credit is due, they have their shit together, and having dealt a few times with customer service (because of patch fuck-ups on my behalf), I can safely say that they really do try their best to give you the best possible service and help. I haven’t experienced such good customer service with any other game before.

I’ve tried other MMOs, and sure some of them are less childish in design, have cooler concept (I for one love eerie, difficult and original games) HOWEVER, none can provide the level of socialising that WoW can. I for one loved the concept of EVE online, but I found anti-social and boring as fuck. I found it to be too much like a job.

I play with real life friends, and we tried different MMOs together but found that WoW, no matter how much we wanted to get away from it just for something different, was the most fluid and customisable.

Still, to those playing alone: what’s all this bitching about lack of socialising?!
People may not talk, but maybe the are shy, tired, or not there for that purpose. If you are one who enjoys the human aspect of WoW, INITIATE CONVERSATION!!! Sometime you get stuck with dickheads, other times you make excellent friends. I for one have made some great friends in dungeons and battlegrounds, and it was because we talked to each other… It’s only as social or antisocial as you make it. FIND A GREAT GUILD!

All this whining about it being too easy or too hard: The purpose of all the different aspects within the game, is to enable the player to customise their game to be played how they want it. You don’t have to quest, you don’t have to do dungeons, you don’t have to do PVP, you don’t have to twink.. You don’t have to do anything you think is a waste of time.

Again, it comes back around to: make some great friends who you share a dynamic with, you’ll soon find how much fun you can have doing even the MOST mundane of tasks…

The entire game is about having fun with REAL PEOPLE… NOTHING MORE. It isn’t a ONE PLAYER GAME.

Play with people you like, or make some friends in there, otherwise it will be a miserable and mundane experience for you. It’s as simple as that.

ALSO: Coming from someone who is quite critical of their cartoony style, I actually really like the Worgen. They look Bad-Ass. The shittest character design in the game is the female Tauren.. ick.

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Mr. Shukotsky July 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm

anathematics,

the problem with WoW that it really feels like a ONE PLAYER GAME.

The leveling was alway a single player expirience (imagine collecting 25 of 20% drop rate items with your friend is nothing but rivalry) but that was instances which made the game feel somewhat cooperative thus stregthening the community.

Its not the Dungeon Finder that killed the heart of the game, its cross-realm dungeon finder. Does someone remember the golden times when you could only LFG withing your realm but still get teleported to the instance? I am a very social person and I usually got to have a bunch of really good pals as I level through, but its no longer possible because you don’t get to see much people as you level.

Find a good guild you say. Most of us play mmorpgs to have a chance to interact with thousands of people. The recent (and not so recent) changes to WoW have taken the whatever little interaction we could have to a compleate zero as WOW have evolved towards World of Citycraft (the term ain’t mine, but I think it streaight to the point.

The above brings a fun observation how Blizzard tries to make guilds useful by introducing game bonuses. Doesn’t that make you sort of wonder. I think guilds literally outlived their usefulness during the WoTLK era as most of the community moved towards PUGs.

4.0 was a real strike to the heart as it removed the choice out of player’s hands compleately. Reforge ability did not help alot to reddem it.

As a side note to the linked article I don’t find the heroics difficult or challenging at all. If you remember TBC heroics you know what I mean. I think the community is just too casual so Blizz have to post things like: get the enchants, put the right gems and do some normals!
To every hardcore player those go without saying and just proves my point.

I am loyal player sinse vanilla and don’t consider myself a WoW hater. However I find Blizard devotion towards the casual players both annoying and frightening. I fear that it will lead the game to a totally unplayable (by me and many others) state.

Sure, WoW is still the best MMORPG and it will always be as long as the competitors try and copy its mechanic instead of trying to come up with the original idea. A copy can never surpass the original anyway (remember those Diablo II clones don’t you?).

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Paul July 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

Mr. Shukotsky: you are right to be concerned. In Cataclysm, Blizzard tried to square the circle and cater to both the elite and the average player. It isn’t working well at all.

The key will be whether the average players go and do the nerfed training wheels T11 raids after 4.2. If they don’t, Cataclysm’s failure will be irrefutable. In that event I expect Blizzard will swing back to WotLK-style design and throw the hardcores under the bus. There are simply too few of you.

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asd July 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

WALL OF TEXT WARNING:
The problem with this article is that it may be misleading to some people. The ‘Cataclysm’ expansion did NOT kill off the quality all by itself . I personally considered it a slight improvement up from the horrible mess that WotLK was (Haven’t given the PvE a chance since then) but unfortunately; far from enough.

The game has been milked so hard since the acknowledgement of its success that the developers finally ran out of ideas because of all these constraining links that tend to smother just about every single one of them. And it turned out great, for a start. Just look at the original implementations such as the arena or heroic dungeons that actually felt like they would add value to the game. There was no such thing as ‘casualizing’ back then, atleast not in my ignorant mind. The ‘slacked on’, dull Outland terraining would come to serve as the first sign of decay to my perception. I despised it. But the game all-in-all wasn’t that bad so I guess I could live with it, merely a misinterpreted premonition of what was to come.

It all fired up when Blizzard announced their ‘casualizing’ tactic, which would lead to the epoch where people (Casual, PvEr, PvPer alike) spent their time running around on Quel’Danas Isle doing the 5 man, amassing guildies for a raid on the Sunwell or backstabbing each other while on daily quest duty. This would give low-end PvErs and PvPers or ‘casuals’, as we refer them to, access to decent PvP gear which would aid them in both aspects of the game. Noobs didn’t have blues anymore, which pretty much killed the ‘lol ima 1v6 those bads’, a.k.a. the little world PvP that the flying mount revolving Outland zones allowed for. Speaking of flying mounts – if you wonder why the questchain-setting of classic WoW, a.k.a. the atmosphere disappeared… Yea, I guess you could figure that one out on your own. WotLK extremized ‘casualizing’ as a consequence of its profit-making (flying mounts, semi-free gear). Suddenly nothing was worth the effort anymore. There was no way to stand out, except for PvP top-titles that none seemed to give a damn about anyway, because of ridiculous imbalance. WotLK killed WoW for me. I came back to give Cataclysm a try and I actually liked some things about it but WoW is still dead, atleast for me. I know that I dragged a few WotLK-endurers with me when I left this time.

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Paul July 10, 2011 at 7:53 am

What’s interesting is that they tried to make Cataclysm harder, and it drove out lots of people who liked WotLK. I was one of them. Given comments from the blues, the tuning of T12 and the nerfing of T11, it’s clear people who enjoyed the easier content are more numerous than people like you who wanted it harder.

They never should have zigged back from the easy content of parts of WotLK.

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Mike July 23, 2011 at 6:27 am

This is absolutely an amazing read. You summed up what i am thinking perfectly. I never knew that WoW had broken with fundamental MMO design Philosophies: the distinction between game and world is really accurate.

WoW is just a game now and not a world anymore. I wonder how long it will be possible to fool people into thinking they are part of a living, breathing world.

Anyway thanks for your effort and dedication and i am looking forward to the next article.

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Riki September 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Very good post and though, I agree with nearly all you said.
Unfortunatelly Blizzard wanted more then 11 mil subs and they decided to make game easier and dub a bit but they lost core of players who loved game for part 6+ years and they got new casuals who playing few months then quiting too.
I can’t get how Blizzard is so blind and they didn’s see if they make things faster and easier then ppl will not have anything to do in Cataclysm and both casuals and addicted will become bored of game.
After played this game since 2005. first time in middle WotLK (TOC time) I paused cause game was fell apart. Hoped in Cata will be old school system like they announced but that was only in begening and very soon Blizz dumbed more and more anything good.
Hairloom – firstly liked good thing but we lost enyoing of leveling and discovering world and game mechanic with new class so today we got new players who leveled in few days with zero knowledge of their class.
LFG system – was good in begenign but only now I see how good and interesting was before.
Before we waited more to complete 5-man party but ppl was from our server which we know and they acted mature and polite until end of run.
Now we got instant made dumb party from many servers from ppl who noone knows and many of them playing like stupids, they are usually rude and leaving easy so until start to end of instance usually more then 3 ppl was changed. Where is good social part of game Blizzard?
WoW is over for me and many more, I was part of 20 ppl who started in Vanilla and was last one who gaved up cause really loved this game but game changed drasticaly.
I don’t know what Blizzard need to do to make old ppl back, there is too many things and Im sure if they revamp old Vanilla/TBC system with prequests and slow advance they will lose much casuals (who will leave anyway but slowly).

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gamergaming October 22, 2011 at 5:03 am

I played wow about 2 1/2 years. Cara was boring. I dont think its possible to die leveling from 80 to 85. You can just do the hardest quests you are allowed t and never die. I got bored and quit after 1 month. Blizzard must be desperate . I was getting offers weekly for a free week to come back and now they are offering 2 free weeks. Blizzard go fish make it totally free forever and im still not interested its over for me now.Im not sure if its the game changing or me changing but either way Im just not interested.

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