Wrapping up for the Winter

Wotcha everyone,

Wrath of the Lich King.  Warcraft’s new expansion.  I have to mention it at some point, because for me to try and ignore its imminent release would be like trying to ignore the imminent arrival of Winter.  No matter how much I might run around in Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts (geographical dressing FTW!), it’s still going to get colder and colder.

So, here is me putting on a big woolly jumper and a scarf.

Will I be playing Wrath of the Lich King?  Probably.  At some point.  Hopefully, my mates who still play World of Warcraft will froth at me about it, in the hopes that I will join them.  If they don’t, it will be because it’s rubbish, or they don’t want to spend time in my company.  Either option would be bad.

Good games are good for all of us.  It keeps raising the bar, it means that standards rise, and that means that we all get to play better games.  So a good Wrath of the Liche King is great for everyone.

But I don’t want a repeat of the playing carnage that was Burning Crusade.  An entire server in one zone, desperately trying to level as fast as possible?  No, no thanks.  Neither would be trying to play whilst thousands of Death Knights are desperately trying to get to level 80 to assure themselves a place in their raid.

I might play later, but not at launch.

But there is something about the launch of Wrath of the Lich King that vaguely disturbs me.  And that’s a continuation of something that really started to strike me during the closed beta, NDA days of Warhammer Online.

For me, one of the things I love about online games is getting out there and discovering stuff.  I don’t have to see every single square foot of the world, but I love discovering things.  I love discovering the plots arcs, and taking part in them.  I love seeing the various places, and discovering what sort of trez there is to get.

Yet more and more, it seems that letting all those juicy little secrets out is part of the marketing campaign.  Now, I haven’t bought gaming magazines for a while, but this month’s PC Gamer has a number of pages dedicated to Wrath of the Lich King spoilers.  I can only assume that there have been similar amounts of NDA leakage to gaming websites as well.  Whether there’s more or less leaking than for Warhammer Online’s launch I have no idea, and nor do I care to find out, but something does worry me.  Is one of the reasons that we look for these leaks to give us a leg up, an advantage over our fellow players, rather than to help us form an opinion about a game, and if we should spend our hard-earned spoondoolicks on it?

It’s quite likely that I’m going senile, but I remember a time, a much gentler time, when gaming was about fun.  It was about levelling your character, so you could do different fun stuff.  It was about “ooing” and “aahing”, and generally going “squee!” when something nice dropped.

And then, somehow and somewhere, that ceased to be the case.  Suddenly it was about getting to maximum level as fast as possible, with the levelling content being there purely to stop you getting bored and going elsewhere.  Suddenly it was all about the epixxx, and moaning because “your” item didn’t drop.  Again.

Will Wrath of the Lich King change this?  Will it bring peace and love back to online gaming?

Or is Wrath of the Lich King just another excuse to wave our e-peens about the ether, in the way that Warhammer Online, and the rest of the current wave of 2nd Generation Online Games have been doing for some time now?

I really, really hope it’s great.  That it becomes more than the sum of its parts.  That it brings happy joy-joy feelings to online gamers everywhere.

Most of all, I’m really hoping they’ve got rid of the grind, because that’s what keeps sucking all of the fun out for me.


8 Responses

  1. It’s bringing a lot of closure to some of the hanging lore plotlines, which if you haven’t spoiled yourself on, will be quite awesome to encounter in WoTLK.

    Of particular note is our good friend Tirion Fordring. I will say no more than that :p

  2. The main draw for me to Lich King is the Arthas storyline, but that’ll be waiting for me when I pick it up in 2009. I’ve never been an “achiever” on the scale that Blizzard would like. I usually level cap, gear up a bit from 5-mans and BGs, and play an alt.

    The leveling process, the lore from 1-60 (not 60-70) is very good for a Warcraft fan. If when pick up Lich King I can get the same feeling I had leveling from 1-60, I’ll be satisfied.

    But for now, there’s a WAR on. 🙂

  3. I thought about looking at WotLK but remembered how much time it sucks out of me raiding. If you don’t raid this week your put on apt status next week. Maybe it was just my guild?

  4. This is WoW we’re talking about. It only exists as a vehicle to wave around your e-peen.

    “Fun” and “Lore” are barely considerations, far overshadowed by “Epix” and “Arena Ratings”. It was fun from 1-59. Then it went downhill fast and has never recovered.

  5. I hate the e-peen mentality. I’m not going to be playing Lich King, as I haven’t actually played WoW in rather a long time because I just got sick of the e-peen.

    I do hope they do well for themselves, unlike a lot of anti-WoW people, mostly because as you’ve said, it raises the bar a bit for the rest of games.

  6. I remember very clearly being mocked by a couple of people when playing the last WoW expansion for not having a character with lots of purples and for not being maximum level.

    It made me go away and think very hard about whether I wanted to play a game that encouraged that kind of player and had that style of approach to it. I decided that I didn’t.

  7. I’m not sure wow has done anything majorly wrong, its an mmorpg descended from diabloesque loot system, the only thing is that loot is tied into tables on specific monsters rather than being the same loot but different chances of it dropping.

    Maybe that would be fair say you have a 1 in 10000 chance of getting a set purple on a normal mob, 1 in 1000 for champions and you get 2 on a boss.

    The feeling of being in a raid and downing a boss for the first time is better than any feeling I’ve had in WAR yet, hopefully this will not continue to be the case.

  8. I hate raiding — really not my playstyle at all. I want to feel like a hero, not just one of a hundred people running an encounter by rote or following some guide off the internet.

    I did have a *little* but of fun with TOA raids when I played USA DAoC but then I was with a guild writing the book on how to do the encounters. Second/third hand is not the same.

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