World of Warcraft is a popular game, I'm sure you've heard of it. As gamers, it's somewhat safe to assume you've even played it yourself or still doing so. I played the game for a good while many years ago, and with the recent Cataclysm expansion and all the buzz surrounding it, my small dedicated group of gaming friends decided to jump back in. With a somewhat lack of 3 or 4 player co-op games around at the moment, it seemed like a pretty good idea.
Well, it wasn't a bad one, but it didn't turn out to be that great either.
Perhaps naively, I thought the game might have changed substantially since the last time I had played, around 5 years ago. If the gaming press and podcasts were to be believed anyway. What I found however was less a leap forward and more a regression, a dialling back of the 'world' part of World of Warcraft, and a heightening of the 'warcraft'. Let me try and explain what I mean.
People I know and most everyone else would have you believe WoW is much more streamlined and much easier to get into now. This is indeed true, however I don't think it's a step in the right direction. You see, no longer do you trudge through the world and go on grand adventures in order to arrive at your destination. No longer do you spend maybe 15 minutes travelling to the dungeon, witness the sights and sounds along the way, maybe even have a battle or two with the opposing faction, to arrive at the grand gates or mysterious cavernous openings of before. Now, when you want to head to a dungeon you press a button and you're soon magically transported inside.
Nor is there a reason to gallop across the grand vistas on your steed from quest to quest. Instead, you leap into the sky and hop from place to place, only taking in the surrounds from afar. You no longer move from one place to another, you move from one number to another number, an exclamation point to a question mark in order to collect more exclamations that turn into more question marks. You no longer have, quite literally, that contact with the world. You no longer have any context surrounding the adventures you embark on, as moving from one to another is either done via teleportation or flying mount.
The content of World of Warcraft has been turned into a vending machine. You put your money in and receive the reward, but have no surrounding context of the adventure in between.
This likely suits most players. This is why most play the game to begin with. There's an ever growing player base who love to grind for loot or reward and you can do that faster than ever before in the modern day World of Warcraft, but it's not for everyone, and it's not for me.
I prefer a little more world in the games I play.