At times I ask myself: Am I playing too much World of Warcraft? It is hard to comprehend what 6,311 hours mean without a context. My record shows that I have played this online game since the beginning of 2005, spent more than US$1,000 on subscription fees. I don’t play WoW every day. As of now, I haven’t touched the game for months. But when I touch it, I could go crazy with it.
Typically for me, a video game takes around 40 hours to consume. A good game may eat up 80 to 120 hours of my life. The third expansion Cataclysm was released two year ago. That expansion alone I have clocked in roughly 1,700 hours – the most played expansion of all.
There has been great debate on how Cataclysm flares compared with the previous expansions, even with the original game released in 2004. There are fans who say that it is disappointing. The sales figure also seems to support that sentiment. Towards the end of the expansion, even the developers feel the heat and the need to reverse a good portion of their design philosophy. This clearly has an impact on WoW’s next expansion Mists of Pandaria, which is due to be out in a few days’ time. The question is: Is Cataclysm all that bad?
Personally, I welcome a better emphasis on skill-based rather than gear-based approach. The content at the beginning of the expansion was significantly harder than before. That required us to reexamine our priority system. I love the challenge, although I must say, Blizzard seems to have over-engineered some of the game mechanics.
The problem of this increased challenge is that some players no matter how hard they tried or read from the Internet simply could not bridge that gap. In the previous expansions, we could compensate skill with gears earned through persistence. That did not seem to work for the first year of Cataclysm. To make it worse, the then-high-end content failed to reward the effort required. The net result? People were frustrated. Relationships were strained because not everyone performed or could perform at the same level.
On the plus side, I like the bite size stories spread across the new zones. I also like the new dailies hub that evolves as we progress. The quests do not feel too taxing either. And I like how Blizzard opens up raiding to the less hardcore players. Being able to collect an armor set that was used to be exclusive to raiders who invest immense amount of time and sacrifice is one good news (ironically, I do not seem to invest any less played time either).
Having played the beta of the new expansion Mists of Pandaria and having seen some of the new game updates, I must say that I am underwhelmed. The graphics look dated. World of Warcraft indeed plays like an aging game. Fans would defend this online game by pointing to the fact that game play is the most important aspect of all. But there is a limit to how far this saying could go.
My friends and I have recently logged back in and tried out the new scenario mode. That was insanely boring. Perhaps if we haven’t tried the latest massively multiplayer online game, we could have overlooked these flaws. Would I continue to pay US$14.99 a month to play this game? Cynthia’s commitment to the annual pass deal will continue till end of this year. Hence, we may still get the new expansion and try it out.
This time round, I doubt I would pushed the played time beyond 7,000 hours. I sure pray that I won’t.