Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top 5 Things I Am Glad They Changed In WoW (Part 2)

nos·tal·gi·a  (n-stlj, n-)
1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

You might think you know what this post is about (except that the title probably gave it away), but you'll probably be wrong. But I'll get to that too eventually.

It has always fascinated me when people long for the olden days, thinking that just because it rhymes with "golden" everything about it was gold-tinted. People who see Game of Thrones and think "Would've been awesome to live back then (i.e imaginary middle ages), life was so much simpler". Oh, you mean back when a common cold could kill you? Yeah, have fun with that. The same effect can be seen in WoW, fascinatingly enough it seems like every new expansion makes the old one seem so much better than when it was current content. I know this for a fact because when Burning Crusade was released, loads of people were whining about the removal of 40-man raids. When Wrath was released, loads of people were moaning about how the raids of BC were so much better. When Cataclysm was released, people suddenly started to think that ICC had been one of the best raids they'd been to. And these examples are just a piss in the sea to all the complaints that were actually thrown around, and suddenly forgotten as soon as people didn't have to play that content anylonger.

Some things do get worse as a game moves on and changes. I am woman enough to admit that I look back at all the previous expansions wishing I could replay them as if they were new, for different reasons. I miss the class quests of Vanilla, I miss the feel of BC and the raiding of Wrath, just to mention a few things. But change can also be for the better, which I have written about previously. And here is my part two of "Top 5 Things I Am Glad They Changed In WoW".

5. Pet Handling

I must say I think they've taken the simplification of pet handling a wee bit too far when it comes to hunters. I reckon soon you won't even have to tame your pets, you just go to the stable and get to choose from a big list. No wait, next up your skills will automatically put a dot on your target and also bless your party with a buff of your choice, because that is what the pet has become now anyway - a dot plus buff with an animation. And it can die. Actually, what's left of pets is exactly that, a dot plus buff with a drawback, much like the shaman totems which makes it more annoying than fun in my book.

But every change to pet handling has not been to the worse, there were some things about it that was plain infuriating. Many of these things are still around, like the way your pet sometimes bugs out when you interact with temporary quest pets, getting caught in a limbo where you are unable to dismiss or call for your pet. I could be wrong but I want to recall there being an even more annoying feature to pet handling though, the fact that your pet would despawn everytime you mounted anything, or at least after everytime you had used a flight path. Every. Time.

I'm not sure if this was true for hunters, but unless my memory fails me this was at least true for warlocks. And how often do you mount and dismount/fly during the course of a gaming session? The answer is: A-frickin-lot. Unlike hunters, warlocks didn't just have the one second "whistle-and-your-pet-comes"-skill either, but had to recast those six or whatnot seconds every time. I disagree with most of the changes done to pets, as I liked the feeding and even the differences in stats that hunter pets had, but I am definitely happy they changed this specific issue.

4. Disenchanting

Enchanting used to be one of the few professions that didn't benefit the alts of the user. Unlike most other professions, where you could just send items to your alts when needed, you still needed to ask other people to enchant the bop gear of your alts. Fortunately, they adressed that issue by introducing the enchanting vellums, very handy. But do you remember when you had to manually give all the blues and greens of the instance to the enchanter of the party for them to disenchant, and then if you were lucky in the end they would hand them back to you? Some people complain about how enchanters nowadays just ninja need on greens, but trust me, it used to be a lot worse. I read a funny story regarding this, I can't remember where now, about how a warlock collecting soul shards got called a ninja for not distributing his soul shards at the end of the instance, that someone in the party mistook for enchanting material. Good times.

3. Traveling

I remember when dying in Maraudon usually meant the end of the party. Not only did it take 10-15 minutes to get to the cave, then you usually had to wait another 20 minutes for the person to find their way to the entrance of the specific instance you were in. You were screwed if you were doing a Princess Run, since you needed the staff to open the instance entrance portal, and that staff wasn't usable when dead.

Dying in some parts of Barrens meant a 10 minute run even from the nearest graveyard and worst of all, trying to get to Ironforge as a Night Elf was a dull nightmare run of 30 minutes unless you managed to convince a warlock to summon you or a mage to port you. Tricky business for a new player without friends or funds. Getting to Badlands, some parts of Stranglethorn Vale or dying in any of the Blackrock Mountain instances also meants tens of minutes in running. After a couple of deaths or a couple of alts, it quickly became very boring and very tedious. They've definitely improved most of the traveling time sinks that used to be in the game and many of them were horrible.

2. Collecting Instance Groups

People love whining about how the LFD tool turned instancing into a mindless business with the party being a group of indiviuals, no one caring about the next person more than they would any npc (actually probably less). This is without a doubt one of my favorite subjects, and I tend to return to it over and over, because eventhough there are a lot of things that could be better about pugging, few things were better about how it was done before the LFD-tool.

I remember asking around in the lfg-channel for easily an hour before finally having a group, this was especially true for any instance that wasn't popular like any midlevel instance. Any setback (like dying in Maraudon, see 3.) would normally have one of the members leaving, just like now, which basically put you back to square zero in terms as whether you were going to get the instance done or not. There was no zoning back to questing then, you had to do all the traveling to where you were and then back to the instance when you finally found the last member. If you were lucky, you got one instance done every second hour. People didn't mind much because they didn't know of any better - this was the way instancing was done. Also everything was still new and fresh so we didn't mind things taking a little time. Since we didn't get to do the instances often at all, we didn't grow tired of them as quickly as we do now and tend to remember them as so much more fun and epic. Now that we're spoiled with the extreme simplicity we seem to have forgotten what a pain in the ass getting an instance back then used to be.

1. Diminishing Returns

I remember people thinking protection warriors be OP in arena pvp back in Wrath, I know people constantly complain about how annoying warlocks are with all their fears. Thank heavens for diminishing returns, right? What if I told you they didn't always exist? Initially, stuns, fears and incapacitates lasted their full duration, all the time, which made some classes unbearably annoying to fight against and endlessly fun to play. Warriors were an extra level of fun because of the amount of randomness in their stuns, another thing Blizzard later on decided to remove as much as possible, I can only imagine the masses of keyboards and monitors destroyed during the early years of WoW because of sheer frustration.

And stuns used be a major thing about the game.
If you decide to tank through an instance like LBRS or especially UBRS, you will quickly notice that some packs seem to stun you all the dang time and that is even with diminishing returns! Why did Blizzard ever think that a fun part about tanking was to stand around unable to do any actual tanking while the mobs run around everywhere? Back when they still thought the rest of the party would actually give a crap and help you out by dpsing carefully and sensibly, heh.

The only reason I ever succeeded in world pvp back in Vanilla was because I decided to main a shadow priest and then warlock shortly, and the fears saved me every time. The whole concept of "stunlocking" was truly created back then, when a rogue could sneak up on you and keep you stunned until you died, sometimes even until you dismounted. Yes, this happens still today, but back then this was what was to be expected in an encounter with these classes, and some classes just didn't stand a chance against it, which is why Blizzard decided to balance it out although no way near fast enough. For all the stun- and fearlocks I've had to suffer through, I am immensely glad they introduced diminishing returns into WoW.