I’ve been playing WoW for just under a week now after having been away for seven months.Â Has the landscape changed at all?Â No, not the geological landscape but the “how the game is played” and the “general feel” and “what people do” viewpoint of what goes on when you log in to play.Â I’m not a hardcore raider, and I’m not all that interested in WoW PvP.Â You can safely consider me one of the average people who plays WoW because I’ll dabble a little in everything.Â I’m going to try and explain how I perceive WoW today.Â Based on your views of WoW, this might be read as either an endorsement of WoW or the type of post someone makes when they’re about to quit.Â Â It’s neither.
When I was playing WotLK back in November 08 to January 09 there was a lot going on.Â People were leveling, raising their reputation, running regular instances, heroic instances, and starting their raids.Â It may not seem like it, but the landscape was quite diverse and everyone was running around doing their various things.
Today, the landscape has simplified a great deal.Â Reputation grinding is barely talked about, and on a whole not really important or as important.Â I have not seen anyone advertising to do regular instance runs aside from the one random person asking “Anyone want to run BRD?” – I can’t help but feel bad for him since he’s about 3 years late.Â What I am seeing is a clear direction:Â Heroic instances and raids.Â The heroic instances give you emblems which in turn give you epics.Â Heroic instances also give you really good loot now that (in ToC) is better than Naxxramas and even some of Ulduar I’m told.Â You can then jump right into 10-man’s and even some 25-man’s.Â In a sense, the gear grind has been reset since I last played.
Getting gear is easier than ever.Â Is that a bad thing?Â In my opinion it’s a good thing.Â I don’t want to get into a discussion, or encourage any of you to either, about the details of WoW and whether they’re good or bad for the players or even the industry, but I do feel it’s a good thing overall when people can obtain gear while experiencing the content at a comfortable pace.
WoW feels like a theme park, which we all acknowledge.Â Raiding, or doing instances, or even a BG/Arena is like riding the rides at a themepark; Disneyland for example.Â When you go to Disneyland you’ll have a great atmosphere all around you.Â However, as great as the atmosphere might be, we can’t ignore that most of the people want to ride the rides.Â We will go and stand in line for the rides because that is the best part – we’re having the most fun and the highest concentration of enjoyment while on the rides.Â Some rides we’ll stand in line for over an hour to ride just two minutes and as soon as we’re done we jump in line for the next one.
That’s what WoW is like right now.Â People log in and they get in line to ride the rides.Â They used to enjoy the restaurants, the atmosphere, and the shops , but they’ve seen them all and done it all.Â They’ve realized that the game and their fun all boils down to how many of these rides they can experience in a day.Â I’ve been logging in to ride the rides for four days.Â I’ve really enjoyed them.Â In fact, I’ve had a blast.Â I’ve been riding the Tea Cups because the lines are too long for Space Mountain (everyone loves Space Mountain).Â As much fun as I’m having, something about it bothers me.Â I don’t like waiting in line to ride the rides; no one does.Â And it’s not even just standing in line to ride them (waiting for a group) – it’s that there is nothing else to do while waiting in line.Â Â Â WoW has essentially become all about riding the rides and as a result waiting in line.Â That is the extent of the game now.
Blizzard has realized this and done their best to accommodate people.Â It’s now easier than ever to get on the best rides and they’ve even made the worst rides more fun.Â This is what the game is all about now. Â Don’t get me wrong, I like it when I’m on the rides.Â Everyone does and that’s why WoW remains so popular all the time.Â Â I’m one of those people that enjoys the atmosphere though.Â Even if I don’t interact with it, or go into every shop and restaurant, just knowing it’s all there makes what I’m doing more enjoyable.Â Weird?Â Perhaps, but I don’t think that I’m alone.
That’s the WoW landscape in a nutshell.Â The “Too Long; Didn’t Read” version would say:Â No, the game hasn’t changed.Â It’s simply made what it does best even more the central focus for everyone.Â When you play WoW you play to raid now.Â There really aren’t the “I’m a raider” and “I’m a casual” camps anymore.Â Everyone is a raider.Â This might be oversimplifying it, but soon WoW subscribers won’t be able to clearly identify their playstyle anymore because everyone playing will be doing the exact same things — essentially one giant playstyle:Â WoW.