Let’s start with a bit of background. I have been playing World of Warcraft since January of 2006. I helped open the Gates of An’Quiraj, I was in a Molten Core raiding guild. I still have my first toon, although he is no longer my main. For quite some time I had 2 active accounts and both had the maximum number of toons on my mail server, although after a couple of server moves, I am back to only one account.
With The Burning Crusade my raiding guild fell apart as did many others but several of us stuck together until just before WotLK. Some of the best times in game were going through Zul’Gurub (our rogue lead was a gnome and had the Tiger Fist weapons) during Vanilla and working out way through The Shattered Halls in BC. The expansion was fun and I loved getting the flying skill and then doing the Netherwing quests to get my drake.
Along comes Wrath of the Lich King and things changed again. The story lines and quests were just as good as in Vanilla of BC, the scenery outstanding but I was not a big fan of phasing. Once people were getting into Icecrown, there were not always as many people at the same pace and sometimes you had trouble getting help as you were not in the same phase. I was great getting to know about the Titans and more of the story of Azeroth.
The release of Cataclysm brought even more changes to the game, many of which I do not like. As a long time player of the game, I can see why they felt changes may be necessary to get player to level cap as quickly as possible. This allows new player to be on a level playing field with friends and family who have played for a long time. Streamlining quest chains, putting multiple flight paths in zones and lowering cost and level requirements for mounts, do make leveling faster but take may of the fun aspects of the game away. Many long time players also seemed to lose interest in the game itself shortly after the release of the expansion. Usually things would slow down for awhile before the release of the next expansion but instead of a few months before the release of the next expansion, everyone seemed to lose interest only a few months after the release of the current expansion. When I talked to a few people, most said the changes seemed to turn them off the game as it seemed to be too streamlined, too easy to level.
When The Burning Crusade was released, for a week before, we had an event around the Dark Portal, fighting back demons from the newly reopened portal. The expansion was released and we fought our way through The Outlands until the Dark Temple was conquered and Illidan dies. For the Wrath of the Lich King, we had plagues and zombies for two weeks and then we boarded boats for Northrend and defeated The Lich King in Icecrown Citadel. With Cataclysm we had three weeks of cultist, occult devices and Elemental invasions before Deathwing is brought down from the sky. Now we come to The Mists of Pandaria. We have no big bad enemy to fight, the pre-release event is a short scenario that is way too easy and hardly seems worth doing. The fact that scenarios do not require specific roles (tank, healer) should result in fairly short queues as easier to match people did not seem to work as many people reported queues in excess of 30 minutes.
When Cataclysm was released, Blizzard also released the books, ‘Stormrage’ and ‘The Shattering’ which explain the return of Malfurion and the events that happen between the rise of Deathwing and the actually game play in the expansion as supposedly we slept through several years (although we rescue survivors in Darkshore?). This is a bit jarring for those of us who have not read the books but not too much of a break. With Mists of Pandaria, there is no new Big Bad Boss of Bosses that we need to kill, instead we have outright warfare between the Horde and Alliance. Blizzard has release ‘Tides of War’ to explain how this came about. Without reading the books, we have the fall of Deathwing, the destruction of Theramore and open warfare with pretty much no explanation. This is quite a disconnect for many people. The story of Warcraft has been a tale of Titans, Old Gods and the Burning Legion. Suddenly we have an expansion that sets all that aside. It is like Blizzard decided to say the story for the past several years doesn’t mean anything (look how well that worked in Mass Effect 3). As I no longer raid and haven’t been playing a lot recently, I may be missing things but I am probably in the same boat as a large number of players.
What could Blizzard how done to make this a pre-expansion event instead of a preview of their new Scenarios feature?
About a month before release, you get a mysterious letter in your mailbox from SI7. It mentions increasing Horde/Alliance tensions due to Garrosh’s saber rattling. There are reports of Horde forces being built up in Ashenvale, Felwood, Arathi Highlands, The Hinterlands, North and South Barrens. Over the next couple weeks, you are sent to SI7 to get assignments to investigate these reports and have the opportunity for for some true World PVP if so desired as both sides get sent to the same locations to hide the built ups. At one location you find a report of a secret weapon being developed, you return it to SI7 and Jaina goes undercover to look into it (Horde version might be to recover the report before it is found). Finally we get to the scenario and now it makes sense for those of us who have not read the book.
I have pre-ordered the game. I will be doing the digital download but not the deluxe version. I have played around a bit on Beta but wanted to leave much of it as unknown in hopes of once more renewing my interest in the game. Unfortunately, if it does not grab my interest once more, I will probably be cancelling my subscription for the first time since 2006.
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