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Review: Wrath of the Lich King 545

Posted by Soulskill
from the slaying-pixels-for-fun-and-profit dept.
Since shortly after its release in late 2004, World of Warcraft has held the position of the most popular MMO, quickly outstripping predecessors such as Everquest and Ultima Online, and continuing to hold the lead despite competition from contemporaries and newer offerings, like Warhammer Online. When World of Warcraft's first expansion, The Burning Crusade, was released, it built on an already rich world by using feedback from players and two extra years of design experience to work on condensing the game to focus more on the best parts. Now, with the release of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard seems to have gotten themselves ahead of the curve; in addition to the many changes intended to remove the "grind" aspect that is so prevalent in this genre, they've gone on to effectively put themselves in the player's shoes and ask, "What would make this more fun? Wouldn't it be cool if..?" Read on for the rest of my thoughts.
  • Title: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Publisher: Activision Blizzard
  • System: PC
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 9/10

The first thing you'll notice as you set foot on the expansion's new continent, Northrend, is that the art is extremely well done and the vistas are visually impressive. During the first expansion, the primary mode of travel shifted from land-based mounts to much faster flying mounts, and it's clear that the designers of Northrend kept this well in mind. The size and scope of everything has been ratcheted up, from soaring spires and mountains to massive icebergs to spacious valleys and canyons. One of the early zones, Howling Fjord, starts you off looking up at incredibly high cliffs with nothing but a rickety wood-and-chain elevator to help you reach the top. While doing quests at the base of the cliffs, you can't help but wonder, "What's up there?" Later in the zone, you'll find grassy fields and misty forests gradually giving way to snow, ice formations, and new buildings that are a big step up, artistically, from what was seen in the original game, or even the first expansion. The various creatures you encounter are new and more detailed as well. Sleek, aggressive-looking Proto-drakes circle lazily above a burning forest and enormous Storm Giants stomp through the plains, catching unsuspecting adventurers by surprise and leading to more than a few untimely deaths. Fan-favorite Murlocs have undergone a transformation, appearing all the more ready to make a meal of you. Even the seas have gotten more detailed; icebergs look like nothing that could have come out of the original game, and the waters are now teeming with Warcraft-ized orca, hammerheads, and walruses.

Each zone brings a unique art style. Soon after finishing the starting zones, you'll enter Dragonblight, where the skeletons of giant dragons litter the frozen tundra and battles between dragonflights rage overheard. Again, the kinds of things you'll see in Wrath of the Lich King just didn't happen in the original game, and rarely in The Burning Crusade. There are plenty of spots where the design team clearly said, "Ok, let's set this up so the players will just get here and stare at it for five minutes before remembering what they're doing." If you enjoyed exploring earlier parts of the game, Wrath of the Lich King will blow you away. One of the later zones, Storm Peaks, is exactly what it sounds like; a dark, snowy mountain range in which you'll find yourself traveling up and down as much as side to side. The absurdly high mountaintops give the area an epic feel, but Blizzard didn't stop there. Rising up from many peaks are ancient structures, or ruins in some cases. They do wonders for arousing curiosity, and you clearly get the impression that Something Big was here. The northern part of the zone where the dungeons are located is a stronghold for giants, originally built for the Titans, according to Warcraft lore, and it definitely looks the part.

One of the major headlines of Wrath of the Lich King was the introduction of the game's first new class — the Death Knight. Dubbed a "Hero Class," it is only available to players who already have another character at level 55 or higher, but the Death Knight itself starts at level 55, rather than level 1. This is partly due to the class' level of complexity, which is slightly higher than most others, and also to encourage players to try them out by not requiring the time involved to go level up from the very beginning. The Death Knight's resource management system is based on runes and runic power. You start out with six runes available, and using your abilities will consume one or more of them. The runes will then refresh themselves after 10 seconds, giving you the opportunity to use them again. Abilities also generate runic power, which can be used to fuel other spells. Death Knights can wear plate armor, and are intended for use as a "tank" class as well as dealing damage. They use big, two-handed weapons while tanking, rather than a one-hander and a shield, and they're stronger than most against magic. The class was balanced quite well by the extensive beta testing, though minor tuning is still underway to bring each of the three talent trees in line with Blizzard's goals. If you do nothing else in this expansion, it's worth starting a Death Knight and going through the introductory quest line; the story and visual effects are amazing.

Wrath raises the level cap from 70 to 80, so you'll spend most of your time questing and (should you choose) running dungeons for your first few weeks (depending on how much you play, and to what lengths you're willing go for efficiency; the first player to reach level 80 did so only 27 hours after the expansion launched). Gear has effectively been reset again, but not as severely as it was in The Burning Crusade. Powerful level 70 items will last in some cases all the way to level 80, but they should be replaced quickly once you start doing "endgame" activities. Actually getting to 80 isn't a problem; you should make it there with hundreds of quests to spare. Much like the first expansion, Wrath packs quests quite densely throughout most of the zones, so you needn't feel compelled to finish quests that don't interest you or do group quests when you'd rather fly solo (although the rewards for such are often good). The quests themselves are as much a step up from The Burning Crusade as it was over the original game. Many still follow the standard MMO format of "Go slay 10 demonbears," or "Go collect 10 cow eggs," but the quests tell stories, ranging from small and self-contained to grand and overarching. They paint a very clear picture of what's happening in Northrend, and what its inhabitants are doing to fight the Lich King.

In addition to those basic quests, Blizzard did quite a bit to spice things up. One of the most popular quest lines of the first expansion was an arena event in which you and your comrades fought off an increasingly difficult series of enemies. Wrath has three such events, each with its own story and flavor. Bombing runs are back, but they now usually make use of a new vehicle system which lets you hop on a creature or contraption and control its unique selection of abilities. One quest gives you a tank you use to rampage through a field of thickly packed undead, using the buzz-saw on the front to cut down any in your path. Another has you riding on an airborne troop transport, dropping smoke flares by the harpoon launchers of an enemy encampment to protect your allies as they are deployed to fight. One of the more epic quests lets you take control of a massive Storm Giant and use it to take out an even more colossal boss while crushing swarms of skeletons underfoot. Another way Blizzard found to keep things interesting is what they call "phasing" technology. One of the long-standing complaints about the MMO genre is that there is very little permanence to a player's actions. When Player A rescues a princess from an evil wizard's tower, he's very shortly going to turn around and see her back in the tower, waiting for the next player to do the same quest. Either that, or when Player B comes along, the princess is already saved, and he missed out on that content. Blizzard's solution was to implement different "phases" of an otherwise static zone. You'll start out in the beginning phase, during which, for example, a town is under attack. Completing a quest to fight off the attack bumps you into the next phase, where the town is safe and its fighting force is going on the offensive. Now, a player who hadn't done that quest could come from the same place as you, and stand where you're standing, but you and he would see two different things. His town still needs saving, yours doesn't. This is used to great effect in Icecrown, one of the later zones. You get the feeling as you do quests that you're really taking over parts of the zone; towns spring up, one-time battles are fought, and the appearance of the zone at the end is quite different from at the beginning. Another great use of this technology is for an invasion of one of the old capitol cities. You ride to its defense alongside faction leaders, participating in a good balance of plot and action.

The instanced dungeons in Northrend are also a step up over their predecessors. As with the outside world, they've gotten bigger and more impressive, often setting the group's path against an expansive backdrop to make it seem like you have a ton of room, even when you don't. Blizzard whittled down the length of most instances, aiming for a start-to-finish time of roughly an hour. The "trash" mobs between bosses are typically few and varied; the progress made since the original game in that regard is quite evident. You no longer have to worry that hopping into a group with random strangers could turn into a three-hour affair. Blizzard has gone out of their way to create new and interesting boss scenarios as well. An instance called "The Oculus" is a disjointed series of platforms which can only be accessed by flying. After finishing off the first boss, you free a group of NPCs which offer you a choice in Drakes to ride — Red, Yellow or Green — each of which has its own abilities. It behaves like a vehicle; you direct its flight path and choose when to fire off spells, and it carries you from platform to platform where you'll find later bosses. For the last boss in the instance, you actually use the drakes to fight, battling with spells far too powerful for a normal character to control. In another instance, one of the bosses hops on his flying mount and heads outside while you fight your way through a gauntlet of smaller NPCs to reach the end of a hallway. Periodically, he'll drop down and blast one side of the hallway with ice, making an already hectic fight even more dangerous. When you reach the end of the hallway, you'll find harpoon launchers which you use to shoot down his mount and force him to land and fight. One of the instances in The Burning Crusade had a boss which would use mind-control to make your group fight each other for a brief time before resuming the battle as normal. Wrath of the Lich King takes this one step further; the last boss in one of the new instances casts a spell which will dump each player into his own phase and spawn copies of that player's groupmates. The copies then try to kill him. Each player is tasked with killing their own group to survive. As they succeed, they're shunted into other players' phases until they're all back in the original, at which point they re-engage the boss.

Heroic Dungeons return in Wrath, giving players the option of a harder version of an instance that results in better loot. They're tuned better this time around; Blizzard wanted to make the transition from normal dungeons to heroics to raids a smooth one, and they've done a much better job than at the beginning of the first expansion. They've also expanded the "heroic" philosophy to raids as well. Now each raid dungeon has two settings; a "normal" 10-man version, and a "heroic" 25-man version, each tuned appropriately for the size of the group. Wrath launched with four introductory-level raids, and more difficult ones are planned for the next few content patches in the coming months. As we discussed previously, the current raids have been conquered already, but unless you're willing to devote many, many hours to playing the game, reaching the end of the content before more is released won't be an issue for you. Blizzard revisited Naxxramas, a raid instance hailed as the best in the original game, but one that only a few percent of the World of Warcraft population ever got to see. It's now the primary starter raid, tuned to be much more forgiving than it was in 2006, but still able to make unprepared groups struggle. The other raids are quick, involving one boss each, compared to the 15 in Naxxramas. The fight against Malygos is an encounter where Blizzard shows off just how cool they can make a boss fight; if you don't mind spoilers, you can take a look at a video and explanation of the fight from the folks at TankSpot. One of the other raid bosses, Sartharion, lets the players decide how difficult they want the fight to be. Sartharion is a dragon, and in his lair, there are three drake mini-bosses which can be quickly and easily killed beforehand if the raid so chooses. If they aren't killed, they join in the fight when the raid takes on Sartharion himself. You can choose to leave one, two, or all three drakes alive, effectively giving the fight four difficulty settings. The more difficult the encounter, the better loot you'll receive. Very few raids can manage the fight with all drakes alive at this point. Blizzard has stated that we can expect to see more of this type of selective challenge. It allows them to tune the raids such that more people can see and complete them, but still give the more hardcore players something tough to work on.

Blizzard has done a number of other things to make the game more player-friendly. Professions have been revamped in several ways. First, all professions will, in some way, make your character more powerful, either through crafted gear or through passive bonuses. Second, those bonuses are available sooner, so you don't necessarily need to drop thousands of gold grinding out the last few points in order to get that upgrade. Third, recipes are mostly easier to obtain now. The developers have instituted an interesting system for Jewelcrafting in particular: Each day you can do a quest once which will give you a currency token. You can then spend those tokens to purchase many different recipes. This does two things; it guarantees that all of those recipes will be attainable eventually for minimal work, and it lets you choose which ones you want to get first. They've also made other, PvP-related recipes available by simply engaging in PvP. A few still drop in various spots around the world, but they're much less rare than the ones in The Burning Crusade . Others drop at the end of instances, and yet more are made available by increasing reputation with some of the factions scattered around Northrend. Virtually everything you do will make progress toward filling out the profession. Other professions have similar mechanics, but aren't as fleshed-out. Alchemy and the new profession, Inscription, have "discovery" abilities which will allow you to learn new things, but have a lengthy cooldown. As with Jewelcrafting, it's nice that you'll get everything eventually, but in this case you have little control over which "discovered" recipes you learn. Inscription itself is interesting; you essentially enchant your spells and abilities to behave in a slightly different manner. Often you can sacrifice an unimportant aspect of a spell to make it better in another way; for example, one of the Mage glyphs increases the damage on their Frostbolt spell, but removes the slowing effect placed on the target.

Tanking has received a huge make-over in Wrath. No longer is the focus on building threat; it's more about mitigating damage. This removes a lot of the headaches involved in grouping with strangers. Tanks also do quite a bit more damage than they did in the past, making it more fun for people who like to see big numbers. The success of instance groups used to rely almost exclusively on the tank and healer, and while they're still very important, the focus has shifted more to include the damage-dealers. Many fights are significantly easier with better damage output (and some are almost impossible without). It's a welcome change; all members of the group should contribute to its success. Reputation grinds have been made easier as well. Instead of using the method of the first expansion where running dungeons in a particular place increased your reputation with a particular faction, they now use a "championing" system. Wearing the tabard of whichever faction you choose will allow you to gain reputation with that faction regardless of which dungeon you enter. So, you can always run your favorite instance, or do a different one every night while still working toward whatever reward you'd like. That seems to be one of the major themes of Wrath; putting choice back into the players' hands.

PvP has been a bit slow to get started, since many players are still on their way to the level cap. The next arena season is due to start in a couple weeks, after which I'm sure we'll see a round of minor nerfs and buffs to smooth out any issues that arise. Wintergrasp is alive and thriving, however, as the first dedicated world-PvP zone. The concept is simple; one faction controls the central keep while the other tries to break through the walls and capture it. Fighting and scoring kills will increase your rank during a battle, which will allow you to drive increasingly powerful siege vehicles. You can use them to knock down walls, chuck barrels of poison vast distances, or to try to run over enemy players swarming around your wheels. Defenders can man turrets as well. Blizzard has tried to address faction imbalances with a buff called "Tenacity." It essentially makes you more powerful the more your faction is out-manned. In extreme cases, it can turn players into the equivalent of raid bosses — ones that know to take out your healers first. The faction that controls Wintergrasp also has access to a raid dungeon, and the boss inside drops PvP gear. It's a fun, quick way to cap off a victory. One of the things I like best about Wintergrasp is the spacing between the battles. A battle lasts for a maximum of 40 minutes, and when it's over, it's over. A new one won't start for another couple hours, so there's little reason to stick around. The new battleground, Strand of the Ancients, also makes use of vehicles and an attacker/defender relationship. It's definitely a break from the old battlegrounds, but a welcome one. Honor point rewards for both are pretty good — unfortunately, if the costs for PvP gear from the beta are to be believed, the effort involved to build a PvP set will be the last serious grind left in the game.

When Blizzard first announced Wrath of the Lich King, there was speculation about whether it would continue the success of The Burning Crusade or if the World of Warcraft juggernaut would finally begin to run out of steam, as MMOs often do several years into their life. With the early previews and later throughout the beta, we got hints that such was not the case. Now that we've had time to explore the finished version of Wrath (or at least as "finished" as any MMO project ever is) it's clear that the legendary "Blizzard polish" is there, in addition to a great deal of innovation within a single game. They're not just releasing the equivalent of new maps and models and skins — the whole game is evolving into something much more consistent and coherent than the original game. If any company in the MMO game industry could afford to rest on their laurels, it's Blizzard — but they're not. And I already wonder what they'll have in store for the next expansion.

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Review: Wrath of the Lich King

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  • Unfortunately (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kierthos (225954) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:47PM (#26035719) Homepage

    they spent all the time making the game look very very pretty (which, I must admit, it is), and none of it creating anything for any of the professions. There are glaring holes in most of the professions, not to mention the things that have been broken since the launch of the expansion (and let's be fair, in one case, for the last four years), and don't seem to be on the "Fix anytime soon" list.

  • Hardly universal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Petersko (564140) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:49PM (#26035745)
    "Anyone who has played this game more than a few hours knows that Murlocs are not fan favorites. In fact, they are nearly universally detested; Murlocs are one of the most irritating mobs in the game."

    A quick poll of the six friends I generally play WoW with reveals that the most irritating mob in the game is the hyena. Four (including me) are indifferent to murlocs, and two would play them as a character race if they could.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:05PM (#26036031)
    The problem with a lot of MMOs is that you need to grind to get anything good (like in life). Otherwise why play if everything is just handed to you? The changes that Blizzard has made makes it easier for casual players (a few hours a week) to get the better stuff. It's still a grind but doesn't require as much as it used to.
  • Anonymous Coward (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:15PM (#26036231)

    >As we discussed previously, the current raids have been conquered already, but unless you're willing to devote many, many hours to playing the game, reaching the end of the content before more is released won't be an issue for you.

    I beg to differ. My guild is made up of full time job workers, who took time to level up to 80 instead of just staying on 24x7. We set up an appropriate time to do our first raid based on when 25 people would have reached 80...and we're done with everything in the game at this point.

    While I agree the expansion has some fantastic art (as always with Blizzard) and various interesting game mechanics much as you describe here, for my group of friends who consider themselves middle-of-the-road in terms of how "hardcore" we are, this expansion is far FAR too easy.

    (By "done" I mean we have killed all 25 man and 10 man instances - we did not have time to get around to a second run on Sarth in the more difficult mode, because last week was the first week we raided). We've also killed all the city world bosses. So now there is nothing new for us to do in the game, already. It's very disappointing.

  • by ender81b (520454) <billd AT inebraska DOT com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:24PM (#26036395) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who plays game X is insane because all you do is hit buttons Y all night long!

    Just don't play it if you don't like it.

  • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:35PM (#26036605)

    Really? Grind?

    Huh.

    I've got one level 80 character and I don't remember any grinding. I remember repeating *one* set of daily quests to get a faction, and the rest was doing quests. And while there are some "go kill 10 bears" quests, there are a lot of "take this hippogryph and fly over the besieged town and pick up civilians and bring them back here". Or "here, take this harpoon, go up to this arena that's a thousand feet in the air, and use the harpoon to latch onto another hippogryph, swing up to it, defeat the rider on the hippogryph, and then swing to the next. Oh, and don't fall off it's a long way down."

    The depth and breadth of quests and quest types is just amazing. And even the daily quests have a huge variety to them. It's a grind when I have to go kill a thousand mobs. It's not a grind when I have this many choices and I can mix and match them up to keep fresh.

    I remember grinding for recipe drops, and those are gone now. There are very few recipes that drop for crafters, and the ones that do aren't necessary nor do they particularly sell well.

    I remember grinding for reputation, and that's nearly gone now. I've repeated exactly one set of daily quests, and that's hardly a grind, and I got a really darn cool sword.

    I remember grinding for cash way back when, but I finished up level 80 with 2,000 gold earned and sitting in the bank. Sure if I want a mammoth mount I've got some grinding ahead of me, but who has the time for that. My raiding budget is going to be a few hundred gold a week, but raid bosses are dropping huge amounts of money now (140g per boss in Naxxramas, so 14g per peson) which allays a lot of those costs.

    Besides expenses (consumables, repairs) all of the stuff that money buys is either cosmetic (new mounts, which have no more speed or abilities than old mounts) or easily replaced by playing the other parts of the game.

    They've even made grinding for gear if not an obsolete concept a really flexible one. It's hard to believe in a grind when I can do daily quests, do any of the level 80 instances in either heroic or normal mode, or go do a 10-man raid, or any combination, to get the gear I want.

    Yeah, I'm not seeing any grind here really.

  • Re:My Review (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:40PM (#26036717)

    Your review is a little more like a review than the blatant marketing release that slashdot is passing off as a review. At least you have an opinion and acknowledge weaknesses, although I think there are still some big problems in WoW that WoTLK doesn't deal with or contributes further to.

    I haven't managed to spend more than 1hr in WoTLK (after having quit WoW for a year). WoW may no longer have a hold on me... but I'm not that impressed. There is a substantial amount of blatant stupidity:

    - That flying mount you saved up for (worse, if you bought an epic) - can't use it until 77 or so. Bad call. Opportunity to up the ante here: add flight combat based on class! That would also keep people from short circuiting quests, and be awesome.

    - Not a mage? Can't get to Dalaran until 74 (or so, I haven't done it yet). That's right, a major feature cut out for you while you grind. This really serves just to highlight the grind, not remove it.

    - More dailies...ugh

    - At least as far as tailoring is concerned, in TBC I could at least earn decent epic items without having to set foot in a raid. Thus far, I have not seen it in WoTLK. Given that it's a virtual guarantee I will disable my account as soon as I've done the last 5 man (or maybe before if I can't get my friends to come back) this annoys me. One thing I do like is entering northrend with a lot of epics and slaughtering for a while, that's probably the only reason I really bought the expansion: to use the gear I farmed last time.

    - Pretty much the minute logged in I was beat with the old problems that caused my entire guild to quit: "Heroic Nexus LF2M, need tank and 1dps (at least 1300DPS!)". Now I happen to have a tank, a healer and a mage, all were well enough geared for heroics in TBC... but I remember this all too well. Damage meters, people not understanding there are multiple ways to play the game, people unwilling to enter a dungeon that they don't outgear (because they don't understand subtlety)...this basically puts you in a place where you only want to play with friends, and you are at the mercy of trying to get 5 adults across 4 timezones, with wives and kids, to block out 1,2,3 hours to do a dungeon.

    To try and grow a guild of like minded people is entirely more frustrating: dungeons come in 5, 10 and 25 and need to be approached with the maximum allowable team (assuming you don't outgear them), as a group with approximately equal gear within what someone defines as reason. The result is a lot of people are left off and get bored with the game. You can't grow a guild of responsible adults, because you can't play the game, have fun, and be responsible at the same time.

    Nothing in WoTLK addresses the elitist mentality the game has been designed for. The belief that only the hardcore deserve to be included in higher end dungeons and raids. The best you can do is join a large casual guild, put up with (and play) the politics, and go as far as a mob mentality will allow (usually only 1 or 2 tiers). Plus deal with people who aren't very smart and don't understand the game, but who are what you have to work with. This means damage meters, pvp specs in raids, weird and self-nerfing specs, people fighting over gear, etc.

    The game jumped the shark when they lowered group-size cap on Scholo/Blackrock Spire/etc. It was totally devoured in TBC when they started designing dungeons to require very specific group/raid structures similar to EQs "holy trinity" concept (tank, slower,healer). When it was the casual alternative to EQ, it was awesome.

    So on the whole, WoTLK deserves 6/10, mostly on account of being pretty, adding new content, and a few other details covered above. It doesn't fix the game it's based on, or change WoW or MMOGs in general. It's just another expansion.

  • by frostband (970712) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:45PM (#26036785) Homepage

    I think people stay in MMOs for the social aspect of it. You made it sound like a bad thing by saying it's a "glorified chat" but really, it's chat where the people have a defined goal or objective. So they can talk about whatever including the game and their objectives in the game. I agree though if the objective is always the same, it can get boring, but that's when talking about different things comes in to play to break the monotony.

    I don't play WoW, but I do play other games (TF2, L4D, WAR, ...) with "online friends" and I've been friends with these guys for over a year because we talk to each other in ventrilo about all types of stuff. I would have stopped playing TF2 a long time ago if it wasn't for chatting with these other people.

  • Re:Glaring holes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guysmiley777 (880063) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:50PM (#26036897)
    No, those are not glaring, those are minor.

    Glaring would be "there is only one recipe that gets you from 410 to 420 cooking and the mob that drops the ingredient needed for it only exists in one location in the world, one at a time".

    Fretting over your achievement e-peen is minor.
  • by MetalPhalanx (1044938) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:55PM (#26037033)

    Ummm that is spoken by someone who has either never played, or never played any of the higher end content when it was fresh (as eventually Blizz nerfs the difficulty to allow more casual players to advance).

    Let me guess... by "traditional more difficult gaming skills" you mean twitch reaction FPS reflexes. If you don't, then I'm all ears waiting to hear your definition of difficult gaming skills.

    Go read up on the boss strategy of say... Heroic Violet Hold or 10-man Naxxramas and then talk about how simple it is. Or better yet, if you can, find a friend that plays, borrow their account, and then watch how fast you get laughed out of the raid. After all, if it's that simple, shouldn't you be able to pick it up in a few minutes?

    While WoW is a time sink and does allow a lot for the casual player, there is a fairly large niche for the higher end gamer.

    Oh and as far as PvP goes, explain to me how a duel between two classes that can take upwards of two minutes, where positioning is important, using over 20 abilities each (that can't just be spammed, you need to react with those abilities) is simple? How is that any more simple than an FPS game where you have two (or maybe more) weapons with a simple point and click interface?

  • /yawn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doomicon (5310) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:17PM (#26037427) Homepage Journal

    I quit WoW when it started making the following statements...

    "I HAVE to login so Bigsilly can get his 5 matches in..."
    "I HAVE to login, they're one short for Kara..."
    "I HAVE to login, I have to keep up with my dailies to purchase an epic mount.."

    blech!!! No fun anymore, From what I've seen WotLK isn't breaking the mold, just a new paintjob on the same car.

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:18PM (#26037441)

    The direction Blizzard was going with Wrath is clearly an improvement on what was already a good game....

    It's too bad they didn't finish it before they released it. It's missing that typical Blizzard polish. Spelling errors and other glaring issues with quest text and NPC speech (including directions that send you to the wrong place, or places that just plain don't exist instad of the correct location); items with no names so strings like (null) and "%u" and "doodad_whatever" pop up all over the place; professions with no additional recipes long before you reach the skill cap; a new vehicle system that has no fewer than four completely separate implementations and user interfaces (half of which break); add-on API functionality that doesn't work or isn't documented; zone phasing technology that needs some of the kinks worked out; achievements that you get without actually accomplishing them, or don't get when you actually do.... etc...

    They needed to keep working on it for another month or two before releasing it.

  • by rickwood (450707) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:31PM (#26037677)

    The Death Knight area is interesting and fun. Then it's over and you find yourself saying, "Thrallmar. I can't believe I'm back in Thrallmar."

  • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:38PM (#26037775)

    The longevity of the game is almost purely social (or in some people's cases anti-social).

    It's like hanging out in the same diner with your friends every night. If you just do the same quests over and over, you get bored and quit the game. The people who are "addicted", though, aren't usually sticking around for the grind. They're just there for the convenient forum for socialization without having to leave their house.

    If it's not for you, it's not for you. But people have a wide variety of tastes. Personally, I do read books and get exercise. I also play WoW. They're not mutually exclusive. WoW simply consumes all the time that I used to spend watching TV, going to movies, and to some extent playing other videogames.

  • Re:My Review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jherico (39763) * <bdavis@saint[ ]reas.org ['and' in gap]> on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:58PM (#26038069) Homepage

    That flying mount you saved up for (worse, if you bought an epic) - can't use it until 77 or so. Bad call.

    I think this decision is used to good effect to keep people from skipping large sections of the content.

    Not a mage? Can't get to Dalaran until 74 (or so, I haven't done it yet).

    You can easily get to Dalaran by knowing a mage or knowing someone who knows a mage and so on. Anyone in Dalaran can easily bring anyone else in the same level range to Dalaran by queuing them for a battleground, which the other person then goes into and when they exit, poof they're in Dalaran. Regardless, the design intent is to make sure people don't simply skip all the content and go straight to the fabulous magical city. On the other hand its not that hard for people who are determined.

    More dailies...ugh

    You can level to 80 and also hit exalted with every reputation in the game without ever doing a daily quest.

    At least as far as tailoring is concerned, in TBC I could at least earn decent epic items without having to set foot in a raid

    Every profession / armor type has a corresponding level 80 blue bind on equip set of items which are suitable both for doing endgame dungeons (including heroics if you've got enough skill) and starting PVP. The tailoring version is called frostsavage.

    Nothing in WoTLK addresses the elitist mentality the game has been designed for.

    You've gone completely off the rails here. EVERYTHING in WotLK is desgined to serve the needs of the many, not the needs of the few. The elite hardcore players are already complaining that compared with BC this game is far too easy. Most hardcore players I know skipped normal 80 dungeons and went straight to heroics. On the other hand my parents in law are quite happily two thirds of their way to 80.

    What you need, sir, is to go buy a copy of 'Elder Scrolls: Oblivion' and leave the rest of us to play in peace.

  • Wha? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:07PM (#26038197)

    After reading all these raving comments I am wondering if you guys are playing the same game I am playing... WOTLK imho is exactly the same old, same old with just few tweaks here and there. The new zones are boring and monotonous. The only thing I really enjoyed was the DK quest line.

  • Re:Cheese runner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr00g911 (531736) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:17PM (#26038367)

    That's part of the overarching theme of the expansion.

    Arthas' own personal road to hell was paved with the best of intentions, but he was only capable of seeing the world in stark black and white -- no middle ground. Blizzard wants you to squirm at some of the tasks you're set to carry out. They want you to disagree with (if not outright hate) your overzealous faction leaders (I'm looking at you Varian & Garrosh).

    You get involved that way, and I've found it's been remarkably effective in making me feel like *I* accomplished (spoilers here). I was actually completely hooked with the forsaken, storm peaks and icecrown quest chains.

    That's the beauty of the Alliance/Horde deal. There are no true "good guys" or "bad guys"... just shades of gray, and there's a slippery slope next to the moral high ground. Pretty sure that's the parallel to Arthas' fall that they're intending to make.

    Yes, I think the writing and pacing were quite good this time out. :)

    Part of that is evoking ANY kind of feeling when you're doing quests, even if it's reprehensible stuff. You connect that way.

  • Re:Cheese runner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr00g911 (531736) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:31PM (#26038535)

    Ew, replying to myself.

    Had to clarify one bit... by Arthas, I mean Arthas Menethil, NOT The Lich King. Arthas is (debatibly) part of the psyche of the Lich King, and is his body.

    Depending on how far you've gotten in Icecrown, you might have learned that they're not necessarily one and the same (from a little human ghost child that keeps randomly popping up, whose name is an anagram). They don't come out explicitly and say it, but I'm betting that they want the Arthas half of the Lich King to be sympathetic. Bad choices made with the best of intentions, up to a point. And they've succeeded. Won't go into any more detail as not to spoil those who are taking the content slowly (which I recommend).

    Really interested to see where the storyline picks up once we're able to face the Lich King himself. Things might not work out quite how people have been assuming.

  • PvE vs PvP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frigga's Ring (1044024) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:38PM (#26038619)
    The quests didn't present much of a PvE challenge even to a resto druid two levels under the quest level. However, on a PvP server, I've had a friend get ganked while doing quests like these. I went to help him only to find I can't help since I'm in the restored town and he's still trying to restore it. Also, while most of us at Slashdot are adults, there are kids who play these games. Sometimes, it's just nice to lend a hand when someone needs it. Thought I still really enjoy the phasing aspect, it would have been nice if Blizzard made it possible to revert to an older phase in other to assist a party member.
  • Re:My Review (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:48PM (#26038727)

    This is totally opposite from my experience with the expansion. It feels exactly like 10 more levels of the same game that Burning Crusade was.

    Your character doesn't affect the world at all. I really don't get what you're referring to about having a "notable impact on the world." About the best you can do is take Wintergrasp for a cheesy Northrend buff that lets you collect "Stone Keeper Shards" from bosses in dungeons. That's it.

    People are hitting level 80 and finding out that there's nothing to do but exactly what they did before--stand around battlemasters in a queue or mindlessly grind a dungeon over and over. Furthermore, the content is ridiculously easy. The dungeons are the blandest and shortest Blizzard has ever put out, and the quests are barely challenging.

    If you are sick and tired of "Kill X of Y and return to me" being considered great RPG design, you'll be disappointed in WotLK because it's the same boring thing of the last four years. Classes have been made more redundant so that there's no specific reason to use a particular raid layout. Nice intentions, but as a result, the game feels really bland and generic. There's not even a gold grind at the end for some new mount ability to work toward--just pay 1000 gold at level 77, and you can fly again. Easy. And boring.

  • Re:D.E.H.T.A. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:23PM (#26039261)

    It's always about the gold. Give the player a chance to make a decision. One being "moral" one, with little reward, while the other one being "immoral" with greater reward and watch how people decide. Most, if not all, will go for the latter choice. That doesn't make them immoral people. It's a game. Nobody gets hurt and if they have to eat babies to make progress, people will suck their little brains out. People are usually aware that they're playing a game, that it's a bunch of pixles they "abuse" and they wouldn't do the same in reality.

    That's the difference between computer game players and managers of international companies.

  • Re:Raising the Bar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:35PM (#26039437)

    What I like is a lot of the game world is tied into that - If you want a renown trainer to train your pvp abilities or get gear, after the starter area, these are only available in keeps. and if the keep is owned by the other side... well you're out of luck. Go get the keep back first. And if your capital city is overrun... you can't go there for 24 hours! Serve you right for losing it in the first place!

    Those are VERY PvP oriented things though. There's nothing wrong with that, but from my experience in playing the game for years, Warcraft is simply not targeted towards heavy PvP players. It's there, but only as an afterthought. And honestly, a lot of players like that. Just as an example, when praising aspects of Warhammer you instantly went to the PvP aspects. Look at what a whole heap of new WoW players are praising in Wrath though: expansion storylines, artwork, and actions that affect YOUR view of the world. Every time I heart players from one start degrading the other I'm instantly reminded that these two games, while similar on the surface, are targeting the desires of a different type of people.

    For example, myself, I'm pretty anti-PvP. I hate it. I like the social interactions that WoW provides (hell my guild hosts an annual in person barbeque/party - I have a ton of friends online that I never would have met otherwise. I know of at least 2 couples amongst our ranks that first met in-game), but I don't want my gameplay to be at the mercy or whim of what another player chooses to do. If I logged in with 15 minutes to play the game, and discovered that Stormwind is inaccessible because the Horde had taken it for example, my subscription probably wouldn't last long. Neither way is wrong or right, but you can't cater to one group without upsetting the other, so just know that for a lot of things, it's not just a matter of WoW fixing an issue or adding content, but also a matter of how the existing players will handle that content. Optional stuff that you can ignore is quite often not an issue - afterall if you don't like it, then don't participate. World PvP taken to the extreme isn't ignorable quite as easily though, and so it'll have a more limited scope of people who will tolerate it.

  • Re:My Review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:44PM (#26039597)
    QQ, I don't have an "I win" button. I can't be bothered to play a game, so I complain.

    Stop paying, don't play, lower queue times for the next guy

  • Re:My Review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bugnuts (94678) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:55PM (#26039737) Journal

    Stop paying, don't play, lower queue times for the next guy

    ... and most importantly, STFU after you quit. The players don't care why you quit or how stupid you think we are because we're still enjoying what you don't.

    It's amazing how many try to convince the other foxes to cut off their tails, when only they are unable to enjoy it any longer.

  • by Omega996 (106762) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:16PM (#26040893)
    It seems like they're all here on Slashdot at the moment, going on about the social, managerial, and reflex-oriented skills that are needed to play WoW.

    Seriously - social skills? The same set you use with AIM or when sending a text message on a cell phone. I love how organizing or co-leading a raid really means you've got what it takes(!) to manage people or resources.

    For fuck's sake, people, WoW is the least-common denominator of gaming now - there's no skillset required. Persistence and slavish devotion is what this game rewards, not innovative tactics or strategy. PvP is a matter of who has the biggest grind-peen, and thus has the most 1337 gear. What kind of skill do you need to employ with autoattack?

    It's great that people love WoW, but don't fucking try to tart it up. It's designed to sit you in front of the computer, grinding day in and day out, leeching $15 a month out of your pocketbook.
  • Re:D.E.H.T.A. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:01PM (#26041413)

    Nope. Someone will do it, write a guide about it and people will choose the path that will eventually give them more reward. If that's the "good" side, even if they get little along the way but a big boon at the end, they'll be good. Not because they want to be good, but because of the bigger reward.

  • Re:My Review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jherico (39763) * <bdavis@saint[ ]reas.org ['and' in gap]> on Monday December 08, 2008 @08:59PM (#26041955) Homepage

    Your response to not having access to Dalaran was "know a mage."

    No. As others have pointed out there are numerous ways to get to Dalaran. I got in very quickly because of a large social network, but that doesn't mean you can't get in if you don't have a large social network. It just means you have to utilize one of the other ways to get to Dalaran, one of which of course is to level to 74.

    What about normal people?

    Normal people make friends.

    As for leveling to 80 netting me 3,000 gold, I play a resto shaman.

    You could complain about anything. No one is forcing you to play a resto shaman. In fact, Blizzard has explicitly stated that you should only NEED to play a specced tank or healing class in endgame heroics and raids. Otherwise, you're perfectly fine healing as Elemental, or tanking as Arms, which means you can also quest very easily. The cost to respec once at 70 and again back to resto at 80 is insignificant compared to the gold you could make if you wanted to quest. Even if you did decide to level to 80 purely by dungeon healing, you're still going to earn a lot of money from greens and blues that you don't use, the value of which either in enchanting mats or at vendors would far exceed any repair bill you should have as a healer.

    I also find it amusing that you defend the mindless grinds of WoW

    Nowhere did I do any such thing. In fact what I've said at every turn is that there are alternatives to virtually every path of advancement in the game. Your problem is that you don't want alternatives. You want free lootz without the effort, hence 'Progress Quest'. Actually I don't think you even want that. You just want to complain. Every suggestion or alternative that's been pointed out to you by myself or anyone else is be met by a new complaint to the extent that the very letters of your posts begin to take on an almost supernatural whine, like as a mosquito trapped in my monitor. If you hate the game so much, please by all means take your ball and go home. Stop standing around and threatening to do it, just go.

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @01:08PM (#26048247) Journal

    Seriously - social skills? The same set you use with AIM or when sending a text message on a cell phone. I love how organizing or co-leading a raid really means you've got what it takes(!) to manage people or resources.

    For fuck's sake, people, WoW is the least-common denominator of gaming now - there's no skillset required. Persistence and slavish devotion is what this game rewards, not innovative tactics or strategy. PvP is a matter of who has the biggest grind-peen, and thus has the most 1337 gear. What kind of skill do you need to employ with autoattack?

    Clearly you have never led or been a part of a 25 man (or 40 man back in the day) raid. Managing a raid is one of the most difficult management experiences I have ever seen. How many managers have regular conference calls (Ventrilo) with 25 people and have to cater to all of their needs, educate them on tactics, put up with inter-personal conflicts (loot drama, etc.), and accomplish goals?

    Don't trivialize it because you've probably never participated in a well run raiding guild, but it takes a lot of management experience. It takes a lot of management experience to get 25 people that probably wouldn't get along in real life and smooth over all of their egos and get them to organize and come together to accomplish a goal.

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