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Losing Steam in Cataclysm

It’s been the talk of Blog Azeroth for almost a month now. Cataclysm has been out for just over 3 months, and current content has essentially been cleared with last weekend’s world first achievement of Glory of the Cataclysm Raider.

Janyaa sought inspiration about continuing her progress in Cataclysm, and, earlier today, Peashooter felt the diminishing flair of the expansion. I also wouldn’t be surprised if all the pomp about Rift is partially caused by what we are observing. To be frank, Cataclysm is simply losing steam. The question, then, is why?

Those who are knowledgeable with the technology industry are familiar with the “diffusion of innovation”, also known as the s-curve. The concept behind it is simple:

When the World of Warcraft blogging community and Blog Azeroth first manifested themselves, the game was at the height of the Burning Crusade expansion. You could say that this community from which you read daily was conceived around the time when the rate of adoption of the game was at its highest. One could also boldly speculate that the blogging community started the game’s golden period, and with the loss of a significant portion of its writers during Wrath, so did the game’s attractiveness.

What is the primary difference between Cataclysm and Burning Crusade? I would have to say attunements. In the first expansion, it took longer to finish content when you reach the level cap of 70. One had to work to buy heroic dungeon keys from their associated reputation factions. Some keys required more effort to get than others. To enter Karazhan, the first tier Burning Crusade raid, a quest chain takes you around the world unlocking the secrets of Medivh’s legacy. Before attunements were lifted several months prior to the release of Wrath, there was still a sheer portion of players who did not progress past the first raiding tier. Players had to determine with how they spent their time, and creativity flourished.

Although Wrath also did away with most of attunement processes, elements of it remained. The clear difference is that we knew who the enemies were in that expansion. Arthas would be an eventual encounter in the minds of all players from the moment we stepped into Naxxramas. Clues were left behind in every step of the way, and the Lich King even made personal appearances in quests and dungeons. This is not the case with Cataclysm. Despite seeing Deathwing in several quests, we are still left with little clues as to what exactly he is planning.

This is compounded with the lack of quests marked “Raid” that would properly lead into the entry-level raiding encounters. Al’akir and Cho’gall were mentioned several times during questing in Uldum and Twilight Highlands. However, there are no proper lead-ins into either the Throne of Four Winds or the Bastion of Twilight. Don’t even get me started with Blackwing Descent.

Of course, the game is not all about moving into raiding content. What we have lost is far more than just attunements. We lost the ability to appreciate new content because they have been spoon-fed to us instead of being required to discover them for ourselves. Imagine not being amazed at Fel Reavers walking around Hellfire Peninsula two seconds before being stomped by them. Imagine not experiencing the boat trip into Valgarde at Howling Fjord and staring at the hanging burning ship above. That is the inspiration we lost in Cataclysm.

And if that’s not enough to make you think about what we lost in Cataclysm, take this from the perspective of hunters who flourished in the time of Burning Crusade.

4 responses

  1. I am raiding three nights a week and still somewhat bored. If you aren’t really wanting to do a daily heroic or TB dailies every day, there isn’t anything else to do but PVP and talk to friends. I can’t wait for the ZG/ZA patch.

    14 March 2011 at 09:43

  2. I’m finding the game feels more like work than ever before, *needing* to do that daily random heroic to get Valor points, the same daily quests each day, just plodding through stuff over and over again so that I can gear up and raid a couple nights a week.

    I liked some of the little nuances about being a hunter that are now gone and I’m now back in Outland doing some things I kinda skipped before, but they’re still all just grinds (for repuataion.)

    I’m not surprised there’s so much unrest among the player communities, and frankly , I understand the general negative feeling. I’m still finding enough to keep my interest and enjoyment in the game, but it’s starting to feel like a bunch of work and I don’t want to work to have fun.

    14 March 2011 at 10:51

  3. I agree about the “spoonfeeding”. I would like to see some more grindy things come back in WoW cause I always liked those things. Attunements, long exhaustive rep-grinds? Expensive items that you need to get to the next step of X? Super-long and convaluted quest chains? GIEF.

    Cataclysm had none of that, just some super easy lame rep-grinds from just doing dungeons. Boring.

    I wonder if any games out there appeal more to those like me who actually enjoy a several month long grind for little or no reward?


    21 March 2011 at 15:42

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