The Great Cataclysm Disconnection
Cataclysm promised much before the release but for me, it’s hasn’t delivered what was promised. Today I take a look at why. As always this is my opinion, and I appreciate many will think “Cataclysm is OMFG awesome sauce!”.
Before Cataclysm came out a lot was promised with it, by taking what they had learnt from Wrath of the Lich King, by keeping what was good from that expansion and by hitting the reset button on everything else, Blizzard has promised the best, most engrossing expansion to date, but they haven’t really lived up to that in my eyes. (I know they haven’t released their first content patch yet, but the expansion is still there to be judged).
With the exception of Vashj’ir (which i don’t like as a zone, as, come on, it’s underwater), the other 4 zone lack character. In TBC as soon as you entered Hellfire you were greeted with the Dark Portal, with the burning legion breathing down on you. In Wrath whether you entered at Howling Fjord or Borean Taundra you were met with the Lich King’s forces of the undead. In Cataclysm you’re met with .. either some elementals who have broken through the elemental plane or naga. You’re not immediately hit with the idea that this is an expansion about a big scary ass dragon.
It’s not just that either, the zones have no real feel that they are different (with again the exception of Vashj’ir). The two biggest examples of this is probably Mount Hyjal which could easily had been an extension of Ashenvale and Uldum which could’ve been a southern part of the zone of Tanaris and you probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.
For me, the zones of Cataclysm just don’t grab me, and make me think “this place is alive”
The “Three Quests at a Time” idea
One of the biggest improvements AND one of the least involved parts of Cataclysm is the questing. They have leant a great deal from the previous two expansions on how to make more than just the “Kill X mobs” or “Give Y to Z”, and this has helped to make questing more enjoyable. However there is a flip side to this.
On the other side, Blizzard have made questing more linear and you just feel like your following a path and not adventuring yourself (in reality you were always following a path, but there’s less of a sense of your character adventuring). Basically all you do now, is collect 3 quests, complete them all in the same area, hand them in, and then either collect another 3 or be sent to another set of NPC who will give you another 3 quests and … well you get the picture. There’s no wandering off to do a quest and stumbling across a couple of other random quests anymore. Every quest is set out in a very smooth but linear path.
This is definitely a strange one but hasn’t helped. Blizzard has taken the rated idea from arena’s and expanded it to try to fit the battlegrounds, it’s already been acknowledged that this has gone according to plan and the main reason for that is because one of the things that sets battlegrounds aside from other parts of the game, is you don’t have to find 4, 9 or 24 more people to join you, you can just choose to hop in, have a blast and hop back out.
I personally think they could’ve done this slightly better. What they could’ve done is give random rewards to the winning team. The quality of these rewards would be determined by not just your killing blows, how many honour kills you gain or how many times you capture the flag/base but also to prevent AFK’ers, how long you spend actively playing. I don’t mean just walking around on the side of the map so you don’t go afk, I mean how long you spend engaging the enemy, completing an objective.
There would have to be consequences thought about this. For example. The horde flag carrier has the flag, the alliance flag carrier has dropped their flag. The horde flag carrier thinks that if they hold onto the flag that they will keep accumulating the contribution points as they are taking part in an objective. One way to solve this would be to put a debuff on the remaining flag carrier, that either disappears when he captures the flag or when they engage in combat with the opposition faction. The debuff would prevent that player from gathering anymore contribution points until one of the above two criteria are met.
So what would stop both factions from just ignoring the flag and just grinding honour kills as that would count as “actively playing”? Simple, based on how many flag your side has captured will decide exactly how much of the final contribution points you will finally get. 1 flag = 25%, 2 flags = 50%, 3 flags = 100%. Why 25-50-100 and not 33-66-100. My theory is by having a huge jump in the final contribution points for a 3 flag capture it’ll create a constant attacking play.
These contribution points could then be spent for rewards, such as mounts or gear, without forcing the rated idea down our throats.
Now i was just using Warsong Gulch as an example and this is contribution idea is something i might elaborate on in a future blog for the other battlegrounds.
Unless you do the 1-60 part of Cataclysm and not just the 80-85 section, you might be forgiven for not actually knowing much about Deathwing. You hardly see him apart from at the first flight into Mount Hyjal and during a questline in Twilight Highlands (and maybe if he breathes on you). Now I know a lot of people are going to say “well in TBC you didn’t really see much Illidan until the end”, but i would argue that the main battle in TBC wasn’t really against Illidan but it was against the Burning Legion. In Wrath it was quite clear that you were there to combat the Lich King and his forces. In Cataclysm you seem to just face forces affiliated or worshipping him and that’s it.
I personally would like to see Deathwing pop up more often, not just fighting or burning stuff, but his human form is well-known to be a master manipulator. Let’s get some stories in there with him manipulating NPC’s until you unmask him and such. Deathwing needs to be more involved in the 80-85 game in my opinion.
Like questing this has been a mixed bag. Whilst the raid encounters themselves have been pretty enjoyable, the raid zones themselves are bland a devoid of character (I include Throne of the Four Winds in that as it’s basically one room). Also whilst they have offered 3 raids, they still have only offered the same number of bosses as they did in vanilla WoW (10 bosses – Molten Core), TBC (12 bosses – Karazhan), and Wrath (16 bosses – Naxx 2.0). They haven’t actually done anything more than they have done in the past. It’ll be interesting to see what they do for Firelands and whether they stick to the mini raids or revert back to full sized raid.
I wont delve too much into this topic on this post as I’ve covered this in my last blog – 3 Issues Affecting WoW Dungeoning
Needless to say, i do believe they made some mistakes with Cataclysm heroics, they can be rectified but it’s a question of whether or not Blizzard have the willpower or the intention to fix them.
I would love to go back in time, and see exactly what the designers were drinking/smoking when they made this zone. In no uncertain terms it’s awful, absolutely awful. The idea is that you need to capture 3 bases to win if you’re attacking. If you’re defending then you only have to hold one. When Cataclysm first started, the one side would just defend one base and would guarantee a win. Days and sometimes weeks would go by without Tol Barad changing sides. Blizzard then changed things slightly so that the attacking side would get a huge amount of honour for winning. What happened? Win-trading. Each battle the defenders would let the attackers win, so they the next battle they would be the attackers and get the huge honour points. Their current solution is that if you control 2 bases, you can capture the 3rd one in super quick time. However what this does is create a zerg for the attackers on the 3rd base, and whilst they are there, the opposition sneak off and capture one of the unmanned bases, and the attackers just end up chasing tail. The current system does allow for the zone to change sides but it still feels like a band-aid and doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a very poor designed zone.
Uldum as a zone does look quite nice, not as different as I would like, but still very nice. The quests are well thought out, and compared to the other zones the storyline is consistent and quite enjoyable. So why have i put Uldum here as another part of my dissatisfaction with WoW? Well quite simply, for the sheer number of cut scenes. For a chunk of this zone it feels like you complete a quest, watch a cut scene, complete a quest, watch a cut scene. For me this breaks up the gameplay way too much, and i wouldn’t mind so much if they were skippable but you’re forced to watch the whole thing before you can continue only to be stopped 5 minutes later with another one. This is one of the things that stops me for levelling up another one of my 80’s i don’t want to go through the Uldum cut scenes again, please make them skippable.
Well these are a few opinions from me as to why this expansion isn’t as enjoyable as it should be. Bai. /waves