I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a World of Warcraft virgin. Now, I’ve had some experience with the game: I’ve sat behind my roommate and friends for countless hours as we talked about our lives while they battled with their Troll. I’ve even sat down for a few hours at a time and ran around on their accounts, not stopping to talk to any of the other players lest they find out my secret that I’m an imposter. Although I’m familiar with the world as I can be without creating an account, I’ve always been scared to play the game that’s become such a time suck for my friends. When World of Warcraft: Cataclysm came out, the third upgrade in the game series, I decided to take the plunge.
The latest installment in the digital game revolves around an evil dragon named Deathwing that lives beneath Deepholm. One of the five Dragon Aspects, he turned against the others, was defeated and ended up recuperating until now. His return unites the Horde and the Alliance against an ancient enemy as molten elements clash against earthly being. Since his rise, the world has become restructured – meaning new quests, new adventures, new battlegrounds, new PvP zones and much more things to play with.
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I know I should have probably tried to play Goblin or Worgen, two of the new races added in this game, but I chose to be Blood Elf after really liking the look of the character (and I like the way they talk). I was afraid starting from level one would put me at a disadvantage, but found the simple controls easy to use. Quests were pretty self explanatory and the first few missions helped a lot since they pretty much explained how things worked. For a person whose played other MMOs before and loves RPGs none of this went over my head. From watching my friends who played the game previously, I appreciated the detail that went into the updated look of the world since the big event – at the beginning at the very least. It did get kind of boring collecting two of this and three of that, and that epic look of the game isn’t as great as your collecting three of each items and picking through the countryside. The one big downside is that the really cool updates were all for high level players, and since my character wasn’t at that point yet, I just had to wait and see what was in store. I knew I would just get squashed in the battlegrounds, so that was a disappointment that motivated me to play more and yet upset me at the same time. Cataclysm was enticing enough to get me through the first 10 levels and thankfully got more interesting as I went along, but knowing I had 75 levels to go was kind of overwhelming at times.
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I called up my ex-roommate Mike, who has several characters at level 80 on different servers. Mike’s latest project was a level 40 Paladin he’s been trying to level up but never got around to. I thought he would be proud of me that I finally joined the game. Instead he shocked me: “I quit the game and so have my closest friends,” he said.
“What!?” I exclaimed. This was my ex-roommate who would dedicate countless sleepless nights in our railroad apartment to his quests after working a full 40-plus hour a week job.
“They basically oversimplified it,” he explained. “It’s like they changed all the rules of basketball – and the put the hoop only three feet off the ground.”
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For players like Mike and his friends, who have all quit the game in disgust, Cataclysm was the last straw. He said over the last few updates – The Burning Crusade, The Wrath of the Lich King and now Cataclysm – he and some of the hard core players out there felt World of Warcraft has just become too easy and doesn’t give credit to the people who have been dedicating their lives to the World since 2004.
For one thing, the Talent Tree, where you can pick what perks your player can get as you level up, used to be more complex and have different options, he pointed out. Now you’re pretty much on a set path and you have to do what they tell you until you get to a higher level, and there’s still not that much crossover as before. The special traits that you get for choosing a certain race have been devalued because some were too strong, which made choosing that race to play in the first point null and void. Plus, the other expansions raised the level cap at 10 levels – he felt they got lazy by just letting players go up 5, especially since with a week of play he was able to go up 10 levels in the previous update. The one thing he really enjoyed however was the story line and how each character has their own starting point, but that wasn’t enough to get him to keep paying to monthly fee.
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After one hour of playing with the Cataclysm update, he gave up. He logged in to run around with his Paladin, but after finding out that they changed all the controls so much even a player like him whose been dedicated since the beginning had to look up a guide, he grew frustrated and canceled his account. He was especially annoyed that all these new players – like myself (although he added he wasn’t mad at me per say) – had it so easy. Back in the day, it took months to get as far because of intensity of the game. It only takes newbies weeks today, he complained, taking away the fun of spending time and effort into the game. The high level content for him wasn’t as great especially since a lot of the players around him were three years less experienced than him and getting the same goods. If he tried to start again, he hated how his character didn’t have the breadth of skill upgrades that use to be available to him or her. “I don’t like the lack of choices,” he said frustrated.
I can only say with regret that I wish I had played in the good old days. Then again, if they made it too hard to please the long time players, maybe I would never have got the guts to try it out in the first place.