Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
It's hard to really review this one, as it's the type of game that can appeal to fans of all playstyles (whether you like magic, bows, swords or shields, healing or hurting, etc). What's also difficult is that I found the game to be pretty amazing before Activision showed up and ruined it all. But here goes.
What I liked (pre-MoP):
- For me (from 2005-2011) this was my most-played game. It was well-known, plenty of my friends played on it, and it was well-polished. Also, it was an MMORPG made by a western developer; this made it far more approachable at the time than other similar titles on the market.
- The world is pretty impressive, moreso with each expansion pack.
- Graphically, some people describe it as 'simple' or 'cartoony'. I just think this is the intended style; I loved the game's vibrant colour palette. As the expansions arrived, it became more and more visually impressive, too. For a game made in 2005, it has done quite well.
- The social aspect. Partying up with your friends and tackling dungeons together was amazing fun. It's cool to have your own role.
- It's extremely addictive. Or, at least, it was. One of those 'just five more minutes!' (several hours ago) games.
- Mods really improved the experience.
- Lots of pop-culture references.
- The story is pretty damn awesome. My personal favourite was that of the Lich King.
- The dungeon bosses - defeating the Lich King with my friends after weeks of toiling was immensely satisfying.
What I didn't like (post-MoP)
My score is pre-Pandaria. I believe that once Activision teamed up with Blizzard, the marketing direction completely changed, and it became all about appealing to the casual gamer (everyone). Not surprising, as Activision follow the same dynamic with their Call of Duty franchise. The game has been horrifically over-simplified compared to its former glory, in an attempt to appeal to a more casual audience.
71-point talent trees that allowed for a number of potential and personal builds were gradually turned into an oversimplified no-brainer where you choose a single talent from your class's three main pathways, and you do this once every 15 levels (up to level 90). Note that before, those 71 talent points (when 80 was the cap) were to be placed into one of THREE trees, allowing for great personal customisation. Now, there is only a single talent tree spanning across the three specialisations, and a grand total of 6 talent points to assign.
The difficulty has taken a sheer drop to the point where there is absolutely no challenge anymore. The group's elected 'tank' used to have to fight to hold 'threat' - a background value which determined who an enemy NPC would attack. He/she would use high-threat abilities, and would often have a specialisation/class-specific modifier which increased threat gained by 100%. A good tank would be able to hold the enemies and allow his damage-dealers to really give it all they had.
Threat was first patched to 300%, making the tank's job effortless. At present there may as well not be a threat value.
"Secondary stats" were slowly ironed out. The game now has five basic stats (Strength, Intellect, Spirit, Stamina, & Agility) which govern every aspect of play. Another horrible over-simplification which takes away from individual builds and personal approaches, and panders more to a casual audience. In relation to the previous paragraph about tanking, a tank now only has to stack stamina (health) and press a single button to hold his/her enemies.
Levelling is now completely effortless - not only is it fifty times easier to get to max-level nowadays, but level 80 characters are handed out like hotcakes. Refer-a-friend bonuses include triple-XP levelling, level-grants to 80, and for returning players? If you've not played in 3 or more months, you may have a character of your choice jumped to 80.
The list goes on, really. I stopped playing before Pandaria, and at one point attempted to try and like it, but ultimately despised the direction the developers took after Activision jumped on-board. It's clear to see that all of the design decisions are made with only marketing in mind; which - in keeping with what we know about Activision - are increasingly horrible simplifications made to appeal to a casual audience.
On my attempt to return I was granted a level 80 character off the bat, and in the first MoP dungeon I played (as the tank) I witnessed complete disregard for my role. Which was actually fair enough, because it appears I wasn't a necessary component; you can jolly on through a dungeon as any class now and faff about.
Today, I would give World of Warcraft 1/5 stars, but as I thoroughly enjoyed the game through the first three expansions, I will rate it based on those experiences. Today, I wouldn't so much as give it a second thought - the quality has greatly descended, and the design decisions being made are marketing-operated. If you want a good MMORPG, look elsewhe
Game Traits applied to World of Warcraft (PC-MAC) by Fruitlewp