Homecoming

By Alec Meer on October 23rd, 2007 at 9:45 am.

It was inevitable. There’ve been more and more World of Warcraft references on RPS lately, and to a lapsed addict like me, it’s been like someone pumping bacon smell into a vegetarian’s home. Sooner or later, I was going to sink my fangs back into its moreish flesh. Adding to this was my foolish reading of the patch notes for the next update, which seem focused on improving the solo and small group play, rather than pandering to the infuriating large groups of humourless statistic obsessives who currently rule the game. Levelling from 1-60 will be faster, there’ll be more well-specced items in the wild rather than purely in the super-dungeons and there’ll be far fewer Elite beasties rendering sections of the great outdoors inaccessible to anyone not travelling under an all-purple armed guard.

The faster levelling’s the fascinating thing, and what risks me going back in earnest.

I don’t yet know to what extent it’s been sped up [edit - 10-15% quicker plus inflated quest XP, I'm informed], but clearly it’s to ensure people hit level 60 and the Burning Crusade content as quickly as possible. At a guess this is either so Blizzard can then focus their efforts in the relatively concentrated area of Outland, rather than on the entirety of WoW’s massive geography, or to try and lessen the gulf between the casual players and the raids-are-a-way-of-life players, or both. It appeals to me because there’s so many Horde quests I’ve never done (having poured the vast majority of my WoW efforts into a Gnome rogue), but as soon as I hit around level 30 with my Orc, the ennui of Stranglethorn Vale and thereabouts kicked in. There’s no way I could sit through the 30-50 grind again, where, for the Alliance at least, the interesting quests dwindled, the amount of trudging around was obscene and the sense of progression and adventure minimal.

But what if it’s really fast once this patch hits? Hmm. Already I’m forming vague plans with a couple of friends to start newbie Horde characters and take it from the top. (And, clearly, it could be something to chronicle here, Worst Ninja-style, though my complete familiarity with WoW’s mechanics has me concerned I simply couldn’t mine any humour from it. It’s hard to get lost when you know exactly where every door goes).

So, I logged in for the first time in months today, just to see how it felt. Just one go can’t hurt, after all. I can control myself now. No, really. Don’t look at me like that.

The first thing I did was run to the auction house, the age-old force of habit. I found a good L70 rare dagger, going pretty cheap. For about five seconds I was excited. Then I thought about what that dagger actually meant. Best case scenario – I could kill things maybe a second more quickly than previously. I felt a wave of overwhelming depression.

So, instead, I attempted to amuse myself with the current in-game Halloween celebrations. The WoW seasonal events are usually a giggle, so I picked up an associated quest in Ironforge, which sent me down the road to Kharanos (the snowbound newbie Dwarf and Gnome village, which always feels like visting home in WoW, together with the associated fuzzy warm feeling and slight boredom I get from my real hometown). There, a nice lady from the orphanage asked me to practice putting out some fires. The purpose of this was unclear, for as far as I know Azeroth isn’t currently recruiting firemen – perhaps this is a hint as to what the other Hero classes (alongside the next expansion’s Death Knight) will be? Fireman class would be awesome – think of all the unique hose and hardhat designs, and the mount could be a tiny one-person fire engine.

Anyway, she pointed out a nearby well and a bucket, and sent me just down the road with a full pail. There, five burning wicker men awaited me, though the game’s awful draw distance meant I didn’t notice until I was basically standing on them. I threw the water, and was informed that 1 of 5 fires had been extinguished. Except it hadn’t. Wicker Man #1 defiantly continue to be on fire. At this point, I became irrationally angry. Is the game now so fixated on number-based accomplishment that it’s not even worth it deactivating the flame effect for a couple of seconds? All I wanted was to feel like I’d done something, and to experience a little bit of whimsy. All I got was a text message. Also, the bucket had disappeared from my inventory.

Making a sort of choked squeal noise, I trudged back to the well, filled another bucket, non-doused another perma-flaming totem, and repeated, four times. I was rewarded for my futile efforts with some Ironforge reputation and a sweet that turned me temporarily into a skeleton. My hopes of winning some sort of cool fireman’s hat were cruelly dashed, and the skeleton was same skeleton I could haved turned into at any time with an easily-bought potion. I know the quest’s designed for newbies and veterans alike, but frankly I couldn’t see a single one of the former about.

Perhaps I should buy that dagger after all. I tried to summon my mount and head back to Ironforge, only to be told I couldn’t use it whilst disguised, presumably because Blizzard still haven’t gotten around to creating a straddling pose for this skeleton character model that’s been in the game for years. I sighed and logged out. Happy Halloween, World of Warcraft.

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28 Comments »

  1. Seniath says:

    Weak! You’re a weak chopper.

    I quit (again) in early september. Still little desire to go back, even after being repeatedly told how fun BT/MH is by my ex guildies. I imagine that’ll all change once more WotLK details emerge…

  2. Rob says:

    I like the pic on the front page – looks like a 3D Thunderbird logo.

  3. Jonty says:

    I was briefly worried that this might tempt me to going back, but then all turned negative. So thanks, RPS, for a valuable public service.

  4. Feet says:

    Yep, I was also worried there for a second too, but only for a few seconds. All is now right with the world once again.

  5. drunkymonkey says:

    The levelling thing is that each level from 20-60 is going to be reduced by 15%. May not seem that much, but apply it to every level in that range. Not just that, but quest XP is going to be boosted as well, by unknown amounts.

    I’m REALLY looking forward to patch 2.3, because it might mean I’ll finally get a level 60. And then maybe…70?

  6. drunkymonkey says:

    Oh, and sorry for the double post, but the Rebel Camp in Stranglethorn is getting a flight path as well. Trudging up and down Stranglethorn is one of the things stopping me from playing, currently.

  7. Ghiest says:

    Leveling will only be 10% faster so it will take like 7-8 days solid to get to 60 that’s not including the grind to 70. Don’t give in, it’s all a big facade they are putting up to trying and entice the masses of people they have lost in 6 months in the game. I’ve just come out of a big-ish guild doing higher end content and believe me you are not missing ‘that’ much in the game.

    Probably my last MMO, well untill the next one I suppose (cough biowares new KOTOR based mmo cough)

  8. Aquarion says:

    Argh! NO! The pull, the relentless… screaming… pull.. of… Worl…

    …no, wait, I’m wrong.

    Never got into it. I can happily play City of Heroes for hours, I can spend ages dawdling though LoTRO, but WoW leaves me absolutely cold. No idea why. Possibly it’s the relentless “Kill $foo $bar” quests, followed by an entreaty to go from $somewhere to $somewherelese, in a world where they really should have some kind of magic for this kind of thing. Possibly it was the feeling of being a small ball-baring in a pointless grinding machine. Maybe I’m just wrong.

  9. Battlechick says:

    For me, the best bit will be the new flight path at Rebel Camp although, actually it’s still a hell of a long way to Booty Bay, and on the PvP servers, you have to be lucky to get there alive due all the merciless ganking.

  10. Richard says:

    I’m planning to take another look after the patch. I don’t really care about the game itself – I’m about as non-hardcore as you get with these games, especially when it comes to stat-boosting and caring about loot – but it’s fun ambling around, exploring, and enjoying the world.

  11. Tr00jg says:

    I loved WoW, because I could explore the fantastical world. I never wanted to roll a new character, because I didn’t play much. I really want to see Outland and its splendiforous fantasies. Im not even mention Northrend…

    Now looks as a best time to get back at it again and roll what I always wanted to roll. A frikken Draenei Shaman!

  12. tim e says:

    That fireman mission is a training stage for the attack of the Headless Horseman – he raids Goldshire every hour or so.

  13. Thelps says:

    When I quit WoW I was in a world top 30 guild and had killed every raid boss in the game. So far that still holds true. My only reason for returning when WotLK comes out would be to kill the new slew of raid bosses contained therein (and the intervening Zul’Aman/Sunwell bosses that will be added, free, in the patches) but that would be difficult to do since high-end raiding guilds seem to take it as a personal insult when someone stops playing the game.

    What I’m trying to say is, there’s no way I’ll even be tempted to return to WoW since it just doesn’t hold anything for me anymore.

  14. Cody says:

    Over 16 months WoW free! I remember when I quit. My brother asked me “Why do you play this game so much?”. I thought about it and said “Why the hell do I?” Haven’t even looked back once.

  15. Kast says:

    I’m currently playing WoW for the first time and I’m very glad to hear that solo-ing will be improved. I much prefer playing by myself or with one other player. Just last night a guild mate and I, level 30 and level 26 hunters respectively, crept into the Halls of Eternity (or something like that, the place with Old Hillsbrad). Amazing!

    Solo-ists deserve cool items too, and I’m glad Blizzard are recognising that.

  16. Cradok says:

    I feel pretty lucky I got Guild!Screwed. I was putting in 6-7 hours in a work day, much more on a non work day, and my life was suffering. It totally put me off the game when the guild I did all the hard work in MC with ditched me, and since then, whenever I’ve tried to go back to playing, I find I don’t enjoy it anymore. Blessing in disguise that people are assholes.

  17. Nate says:

    “The levelling thing is that each level from 20-60 is going to be reduced by 15%. May not seem that much, but apply it to every level in that range.”

    That’s right. 15% at level 20. 15% at level 21. 15% at level 22.

    Go ahead, add it up. I dare you.

    Stumped? It’s okay, I did the math for you. /i/That’s a total of a 15% experience reduction, starting at level 20!/i/

  18. Chris R says:

    You know the drudgery and the feeling of being a ball-bearing in an endless machine?

    That’s because Blizzard wants you wasting hours walking up and down STV (Stranglethorn vale) so you end up playing the game longer and giving them MONEY! 16 bucks a month to run around at a crippled snails pace (until you hit 40, at which point you can gallop around at a normal snails pace) completing quests that consist of “Hey you! Hero! Go get me 10 of these would ya? Oh you’re done? Then go get me 30 of those *cough*”. Not to mention the “high-end” content which consists of raiding a dungeon with 24 other people for 5-6 hours at a time. Yay!!…………….. NOT (Borat style).

    So sick of it… The next MMO that I play needs to have what that “Wow Vs. Eve” article was talking about. I’m sick of being strung along by a carrot (aka: purples, levels, mounts) on a stick.

  19. Alec Meer says:

    Nate, I rather imagine he was referring to total amount of time saved. If -15% saves you a couple of hours each level (and more as you get higher, as 56-57 takes significantly longer than 20-21), we’re looking at the complete 20-60 run taking maybe 100 hours less all told. Though I don’t know the average time taken for each level, so I could be way off in either direction.

  20. Chris R says:

    This is coming from an ex-MT (Main tank) for a fairly good sized raiding guild by the way. We weren’t top 5, but when I left we were easily in the top 10 on our server.

    I loved my warrior too, he looked so badass in his armor. Anyway, I’ve been Wow free for 8 months now. Woot!

  21. The unexplained whooping of Gladys McCartney says:

    15% is not enough to overcome the montonous drudgery of Stranglethorn Vale Hell.

    Maybe a 75% increase 30-50 would do it for me. But not much less.

    Also, Outland needs an XP boost, because you have to sit through so much repetitive solo quest drudgery to get from 58-70, I lost the will to live around 64.

  22. KindredPhantom says:

    Guild Wars seasonal events are far better than those found in WoW, try the Halloween one which will start in a few days.

  23. drunkymonkey says:

    That is pretty much what I expressing, Alec. Although I saw someone on the WoW boards convinced that it meant a 600 percent overall drop. That made me chuckle a bit.

  24. Springchicken says:

    I obsessively played the WoW beta, and for a while in the beginning of 2005 I didn’t see much daylight. Then my computer broke, and the spell was gone. Like some sort of mind control device that has been destroyed in an impressive fashion leading to lots of confused people standing around in the street blinking in bewilderment.

    I dread to think what I would be like today if my PC hadn’t decided that it couldn’t go on any longer.

  25. arqueturus says:

    Speaking of seasonal events, Eve’s Snowball launchers were ace. They need to do something like that again.

  26. Andrew Farrell says:

    In fairness, it really really isn’t like Blizzard put a gun to anyone’s head and make them do STV. There’s Desolace, Tanaris, Hillsbrad, Arathi, Burning Steppes… lots of places to make experience. And I saw this as an ex-Hunter, who the panther/tiger/raptor quests were basically written for.

  27. Thelps says:

    As some who really played WoW to DEATH (aforementioned world top 30 guild, 2nd most progressed guild on the server, the most progressed guild on the server was Nihilum themselves…) I sort of take issue to everyone slating the game. Yes, it’s repetitive, but they did their absolute best to take the structure and get the most from it. Issues people have with World of Warcraft are, in my eyes, issues with the Everquest model of MMORPGs. Few people accept that WoW has done that game model perfectly, down right excellently, and probably will never have it done better. That has to be worth something in game-design terms.

    Yes, it’s easy to backlash against a game that is the single most world dominating force in the market today, but it just seems glib to turn around and slate something that excels at what it does. World of Warcraft isn’t exactly deluding people, and if you have issues with the game model then so be it, but some of the posts on this thread, if read by someone who has never played WoW, make the game look like utter rubbish, which I defiantly proclaim it is the opposite of.

    Yes, I’m sick to death of WoW, yes I quit months ago, yes, I’ll never go back, but it was a damned fine experience (particularly the endgame 6 hour raid nights 5 times a week at level 70). WoW is not going to further the MMORPG market at all, in design terms, but it’s such a polished, sleek example of design cohesion that it never feels broken, or unfair, and that’s all I think that can be realistically asked of a game that ultimately promises very little.