Monday, March 8, 2010

Could Cataclysm Be Blizzard's NGE?

I was on the Warcraft Outsiders Podcast last Tuesday with John and Michelle and their special guest Ziv. If you haven't listened in lately, I suggest you check them out.

Bear with me, please, as I try to get this out of my head and onto the blog. I have tried to write this post 5 times now, and it gets better every time. Problem is I am suffering from my normal early spring severe cold and hubby switched up the fabric softener on me again, so I sit here, feeling guilty for not being at work, trying to get this out because I have been working on it for too long now. At least it keeps me from scratching. :)

During the show, the blue post describing how stats would change in the Cataclysm expansion was brought up. I personally think this is a great thing, in a way simplifying things for the more casual player, but still leaving something for the min-max player to chew on. Ziv commented that he hoped this didn't ruin the game like the NGE ruined Star Wars Galaxies. Now, I played SWG, and I have an opinion on this. The WCO podcast is a timed thing, and I didn't think it fair to unload my opinion on that, which is lengthy, during their show. So, I shall link to the episode and leave my too long argument as to why Blizzard couldn't possibly do to WoW what SOE did to SWG right here where it belongs, on my blog.

First, let's explore the major differences WoW and SWG have. WoW is more of a theme park sort of MMO, taking you from ride to ride as you level, with hardly a bit of time left to entertain yourself. SWG, however,was (and to a point, still is) a sandbox, with seemingly endless possibilities for roleplay and discovery, but noone pointing you to where you have to be and what you need to do. In both games you can tackle it head on, just killing mobs for points to level up. WoW guides you, teaching you about the places you are at and the people you are with. SWG doesn't, assuming you know about the area and its people. You should, though, shouldn't you? I mean, who hasn't seen one of the Star Wars films at least once? In WoW, you choose what your character will be in the character creation screen. In SWG of then, you chose what your character would look like and named it, then logged into the game to find yourself surrounded by trainers. There is where you shaped your character, and you could change that whenever you wanted.

Then SOE threw in their New Game Enhancements (by threw in I mean no real warning. It's here and you'll like it!). Things that I took for granted were gone. Instead of a combat queue what you could load up with actions for your character to perform, you had global cool downs and a rather difficult way to select and use them (though I hear some of that part has changed for the better). No longer could you walk into the game without a clue about what you wanted to do and end up with some crazy combination like Master Ranger/Master Image Designer. You now have to choose your path in the character selection screen. Oh, and they kind of point you down the path with their tutorial, showing you the who, what, where and how of the game's lore. No more crazily combining skills to make your character unique. You now have to choose one of 9 different classes to play. They added in skill trees to help make your character more powerful and unique, but all you number crunchers know that if you want the top end damage and abilities, you go with what others have found works.

Some of the things I loved about SWG are still in there. I used to love dropping a building down, decorating the building, planning for new furnishings, and gathering from the remotest parts of the galaxy to furnish my places. I could spend hours riding one of my speeders across a planet, looking at the water and the plant life. Rancor hunting, alone or with a friend, was fun, especially when you could tame them(taming creatures was taken out of the game right around the same time as the NGE was ushered in). Building long and complicated macros to change outfits and dances during a show can still be done. Not everything is still there, and what was introduced as the games savior did the exact opposite. Just last year they closed the realm I played on forever. It is sad to think that so many of the towns I played in are now only represented by a few screenshots.

Now, on the flip side, we have the changes they are promising for Cataclysm(by promising, I mean they are telling us of these changes well in advance of them). What is happening on a very basic scale is that some stats won't be on armor, but may still show up in talent trees, or be based on a certain base stat, or may even still be present on weapons. Let's pick on Spell Power. It didn't show up on gear as just spell power until Burning Crusade. Before that, you could get "of Arcane Wrath" gear which would have a number modifier to your arcane damage. With Cataclysm, spell power will be derived from Intellect, and might be found on weapons. Another change that is presented for Cataclysm is that some things we are used to as a fact of life will go away completely. In the items they have described, I have no complaints. Mp5 as a stat wasn't something I actively looked for, and I would love not to ever have to worry about casting the wrong rank spell on a mob or player again. Getting rid of weapon skill means only one thing to me; time to get out the weapons so I can be the one that says,"Back in the day...".

Do I think this is game breaking? No. They aren't changing how my character interacts with the game world, only simplifying a few things to make it easier for the casual or even the new player to understand.These new changes to the game coming with the Cataclysm expansion do not come close to the horror that was SWG's NGE. I'm looking forward to all the new goodies I'll get toplay with in Cataclysm. How about you?


crankyhealer said...

As someone who quit SWG and bought WoW on the day the NGE came out, I wholeheartedly agree with this analysis. They are not fundamentally changing the game, and taking away the aspects of the game that people have grown to love. It would be a NGE if they suddenly had only one spec tree for each class, got rid of paladins completely, or turned combat into a FPS-style game.

kaozz said...

I'm looking forward to Cata and the changes. I think they will be good. I don't like how the game changed to get to where it is now. So changes can't hurt, at this point, in my eyes.