So I haven’t really been keeping track of WoW for a long while, short of casually reading a couple of blogs here and there.

Today I browsed over to Blessing of Kings which I kind of use as a link hub to a bunch of other blogs, and a glance at the plethora of new posts from other bloggers made me realise that today was the launch date of Cataclysm, the next WoW expansion.

It was kind of a bolt from the blue since I really wasn’t expecting it, aside from a vague impression that yes there was an expansion coming sometime soon. I hadn’t played WoW for over a year (not counting that time I got hacked and logged in to restore my items) but still I immediately felt a wave of nostalgia and a tiny voice inside my head went “hey remember all that fun you had… why don’t you check it out”.

The good old days

WoW still stands out as probably the game I played exclusively for the longest time (about 3 years?). During that time I hardly played anything else, so I was really monogamous (hur hur hur OK OK I promise I’ll stop). It was also my first MMO, scratch that my first online game of any sort other than MUDs. Even now my wife and I sometimes get reminded of something and we would go “remember when that happened haha”. It was really a great ride and I have no doubts that WoW itself remains a great game.

The reality

Unfortunately the human brain always looks at the past through rose-tinted glasses and after some deliberation I would probably get annoyed and quit WoW again after a few months if I resubscribed. The fundamental reasons why we quit are still there; namely, it’s a multiplayer game and most people are idiots.

You need a guild

I think one of the reasons why Wrath was a bit of a letdown for us was that we didn’t find a guild that was a good fit for us, and in WoW you really really need a guild. There are people who play solo but frankly there’s only so much you can do. Wrath made pugging a lot of things possible, but “possible” and “enjoyable” are two really different animals. If you only solo the only left to do at level cap is running 5-mans over and over again and signing up for nightmare trade pugs.

We left our old guild at the start of Wrath because of the guild drama at the end of TBC that made us quit in the first place, and tried to join a more casual Singaporean guild. However, it really wasn’t the right fit for us either because while my wife and I were trying to be casual in our playtime, we weren’t casual in our performance. The rest of the guild however…. I mean there was a pally rolling on a spirit trinket “for mana regen” and one of the warrior tanks took DPS talents over 5% dodge and other survival talents because he “needed threat”. I really wanted to be more laid back after the stress of being the warlock officer in TBC and dealing with all sorts of guild crap, but seeing stuff like that just makes me facepalm and get annoyed.

What made it worse in a sense is that Wrath was so easy. And when the game is ridiculously easy, you can succeed even while playing like utter morons. So poor players never learn and never improve, because they are never slapped in the face with the consequences of their afk-tv-raiding behaviour. Plus in a casual(social) guild everyone goes out of their way to be nice and friendly instead of actually addressing issues like… you know… don’t be an idiot and actually put in some effort.

So it would be difficult to find a guild that suits me, leaving 5-mans and PVP as the main end-game activity. This might not be so bad for me, since I’m a grade AAA altoholic and love leveling and gearing up new characters. As an aside, no you don’t “roll” characters or even worse “role” them. Sheesh. Although most people do seem to play by rolling their face on the keyboard so maybe it’s appropriate for them. I’ve never experienced the new dungeon-finder system so getting groups for 5-mans may not be the unholy time-waster it used to be… but then I also haven’t experienced the GearScore era and the legions of “gogogo” retards either. I don’t think joining group after group of incompetents is an ideal way to relax at night. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad but I really don’t know.

Cataclysm is harder, we promise!

Ghostcrawler, one of the better Community Managers that Blizzard has, put up a devblog on why they are making things harder for healers. The game being too easy was the reason I gave when I quit, and I guess I was not alone since one of the major points made about Cataclysm was that it’s not that easy anymore.

Tanks no longer have crazy AOE generating moves like bears being able to just spam swipe all day long. Pulls are supposed to require some form of crowd-control. Healers can’t just spam AOE heals while running along after the tank pulling the whole room.

Except I don’t think you can really put the elephant back in the cage once it has been out and rampaging around for the past year or so. I’m highly doubtful that the average Joe will be able to accept being shown that he is a sub-par player after being able to chain-run 15 minute heroics with his welfare badge epics for the entire previous expansion. Instead of one-shotting new bosses, will casual groups be able to take wiping on a single boss for more than a night (or even weeks like our Vashj + Kael’Thas kills)? I really don’t know how long it will be before there is a backlash from the average and sub-par player population, who after all pay the exact same $15 a month.

The price is not right

At the end of the day though, I would probably have no issues giving Cataclysm a spin with or without my wife if it did not require a subscription or a box price. With my current playtime of 1.5-2 hours a night, raiding would be a very difficult proposition and it just doesn’t make sense to pay a monthly subscription for a game where the best parts are not accessible to me. It’s not that the savings of $15 every month is keeping me above the poverty line, but I’m not getting equal value for my money with a fixed subscription. I might even be tempted to resubscribe for a couple of months, like I’m sure a lot of people do with each expansion, except that I have to pay the box price just for those few months which again doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Be strong

So I have to silence that little voice in my head. Maybe it would be fun. Probably it wouldn’t. But I will try to remind myself that fond memories of the good old days may be best if they are just left where they are. Great to visit once in a while, but maybe not something I want to go back to.

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