14 March 2011

Just not that into Cataclysm

I've been struggling with this nagging thought...  What if I'm just not really into the Cataclysm expansion?

That's not to say that I'm leaving WoW or doing any kind of departure here. Far from it!  I still really enjoy playing the game.  However, I am finding that the new content in Cataclysm just isn't sparking it for me.  This is evident in two main areas: running instances and the overall lore.

There was quite a stir in the months after release about how difficult the new level 85 heroics were, and this even sparked a response from the Crab himself, Ghostcrawler, on WoW's official forums. I feel like a bit of an armchair quarterback on this topic; I've run heroics, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of them still.  For me, there are still too many barriers to entry for heroics, including:

1. Queue times in the LFG tool
As a hunter whose only option in the role check is DPS (but why do I still see a role check?), my wait times for a random instance in the queue runs from 45 minutes to over an hour. That's just the time spent waiting for the privilege of being subjected to the trolls in a PuG. I can occupy my wait by running daily quests, but usually I'll get bored or frustrated and want to then swap to an alt character and actually DO something other than get pissed off at the trade chat idiots.

2. PuG Mentality
Once my queue finally pops, now I'm at the mercy of PuG life. There are no repercussions for rudeness or reputation, because it's rare that the other folks are even on your server. People are rude, crude and disrespectful (in my opinion more because they can be than anything else). As a DPS, you're a dime-a-dozen, and being kicked has no impact on the group.  So, if you're on the wrong end of a trolling tank, you either take it and finish the instance, or you buck the system risking a boot as well as wasting all that time spent for the damn instance in the first place.

3. Communication Requirements
I love the new instance mechanics. While Wrath could be fun with a pure steamrolling exercise, after a while that easiness gets stale. A challenge keeps you coming back. I've never had any issues with the level of difficulty in the Cata instances because it just meant people had to work together and use actual tactics. I also love it because I feel like hunters gained a new respect (when played correctly) for trapping and crowd controlling utility. The old stigma of "not another hunter" was slowly being replaced with "great, a hunter to DPS and CC!".

But, for that to work the group needs to communicate. That skill seems to be sorely lacking in PuGs. With Wrath, it didn't matter. In Cata, it matters.

I've gone through instances where the only party chat is my 'hello', followed by the tank saying 'trap square' and off he or she goes to begin pulling. That bull in a china shop stuff don't cut it yet in Cata (at least for those of us not in full T11 epics yet).

4. Time Commitment
So I've already waited for a hour for a group, and now that I'm in one and we'll pull Deadmines.  Great! Now I get to look forward to a 45 minute exercise to the boat, followed by corpse run after corpse run as I still fail on the damn limbo sticks until we get back to the last boss.  My fastest clear of Deadmines?  An hour and 15 minutes.  Are there folks that do it better than that? I imagine so, but I'm not playing with them.

From a sheer time investment, it takes me two to three hours to wait and run a single heroic.  That's a commitment I'm making for a raid, not a heroic.

Beyond the mechanics of just not having the time or patience to really explore the new content, I'm finding the lore lacking. I get that Deathwing has arisen and all, but unlike in Wrath where I saw Arthas all the way through my questing experience, I've only seen Deathwing on my login screen with Cataclysm. With Wrath, I was starting to get tired of seeing the Lich King everywhere before ICC was even released I had so much exposure to him.  Deathwing is glaringly absent from my Cataclysm experience.

I've seen some minor characters in the questing (but most of them I've already beat up on before in Vanilla -- Chogall as newbie level 18 hunter and Ragnoros weekly in my Molton Core farming).

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the quests in the new level 80-85 zones because it's obvious Blizzard put thought into them.  However, the overall story just seems to lack cohesion.

With Wrath, I not only knew Arthas was the villian, but also I saw where he came from and how he became that villain. I've got no clue where Deathwing's coming from. I remember so wanting to run Naxx and experience the lore that was introduced with the quest lines in Dragonblight. I really was wanting to get into Ulduar for the discoveries Brann unleashed. When ICC was finally released, it was great to start getting into that final content.

Before that, we had the outland raids all leading up to Illidan Stormrage. Each raid had a zone quest lore behind it and precursor dungeons to shape it's content.  Then, we had ZA added.  Sunwell was added.  Each had their own mini lore expectations that were released.

The raids now?  They are just gear opportunities for me. I see no real value in the story line behind them, or if it is there it just hasn't grabbed me the way that TBC or Wrath did. Sure, there's a windy instance in Uldum. But my questing experience in Uldum was all about being Indiana Jones. I get the Twilight Highlands with Grim Batol and then Bastion of Twilight (and I actually saw Cho'gall while questing in Twilight!) But the others?  Not so much.

The Older Stuff Rocks
Lately, my highlights in the game have been my Friday and Saturday nights where my guild has been getting together to run older content and basically collecting achievements. Those experiences have been the high points for me -- killing the Lich King finally, seeing Ulduar, trying Heroic difficulty... Content I wasn't able to see during it's prime, but still enjoyable content.

I think it just boils down to personal preference; the new content hasn't grabbed me by the short and curlies the way the prior content did.

I'm hoping that changes!