Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Expansion Events in Review

This past couple of weeks have been rather eventful. First we were invaded in Real Life by out of state relations fleeing from the Palins. Then my computer decided to have software issues so I couldn't get to the blog. All this meant that my original intentions for dealing with the Elemental invasion got thrown out the window. Today the Shattering will take place and a new world order introduced, so lets look at each of the previous expansions and how Blizzard handled those events. What makes an event successful? What did they do right and what things need to be reconsidered?

Burning Crusade

The Dark Portal Opens was the very first expansion event we ever had and we were all so excited that we really didn't care that there wasn't much to it. One world boss in the form of Highlord Kruul who was a 40 man raid so unless you were a hunter and kited him back to one of the major cities or part of a major raid guild you didn't really get the chance to do much with him. The other part consisted of standing in the Dark Portal killing emerging demons the day before launch so you could get your complementary tabard. (Or breaking out into all out war with the opposing faction which was a whole lot more fun.)

Those of use who were around for the BC event all remember Kruul's rampages through Orgimmar and Stormwind, but I only vaguely recall the party at the Dark Portal. Even though I had an event commemorating Tabard every time I stumbled across it in my bank it didn't evoke any lasting memory. While the IDEA was good, the execution still needed some refinement. More people needed to feel a part of what was taking place. BC was definitely a "High Level Only" thing.

Wrath of the Lich King

The Zombie Invasion was an event where people really began to express their opinions about these "expansion events" this was now our second and it really changed the whole facet of the game. With the BC event, if you were not a High level character, unless someone kited Kruul to you, it didn't really have an impact. With the Zombie Invasion there was NO place you could hide. BG's, Cities, the country, Outland, starting areas...EVERYWHERE was effected. If it wasn't being over run by high level mobs from the Lich King's Ziggurats, fellow players were infecting others and turning people into ghouls. People generally either loved it or hated it.

However if you were high enough level to really participate you could walk away with some interesting little souvenirs. I know the Haunted Memento is still very popular on my server. There were also the recolored Paladin tier 2 sets, just enough to get the look, not the greatest stats on them but that was ok, I still have all of mine kicking around in the bank. Then all of the little "vanity" type trinkets you could get from killing the various mobs and turning in the Necrotic Runes. (Come on having that Pally from the Argent War Horn bubble hearth was always a riot!) Not only that but killing those mobs gained you reputation with the Argent Dawn, which for some who hadn't bothered was a nice bonus eventually leading to a title and achievement if you managed to reach exalted with both them AND the Argent Crusade.

One of the major problems with the Wrath Event in my opinion (and it was VERY minor) was the introduction of major lore figures with no in game explanation. Suddenly the humans had a king with bad hair and an even worse attitude, dragging a blood elf rogue who was FRIENDLY through Stormwind. Thrall had Garosh, the whiner, now turned hot head challenging him for leadership of the Horde and no one knew why he was even out of Outland. Confusion was really the name of the game with the Wrath event if you didn't happen to have access to the out of game information.


Now we have just completed the Elemental Invasion. The perscription with this event seemed to be "options" as in, if you want to participate you could, but if you don't you could really pass the whole thing right by. Even right up until yesterday there were individuals logging in who had absolutely no idea what was going on. Now a fellow blogger was protesting how simple the invasion was, he wasn't alone. The problem I found with this "invasion" was that especially in the case of sprawling Stormwind, you needed a good size raid in order to successfully "defend" it. The first day of course this was not a problem, after that is was like herding cats. There was also the issue of the bugged rifts in which no elementals would spawn at all so you just had to wait around an hour for the defense to "fail", the same with trapped citizens.

I did enjoy the bosses that a successful defense opened up for several reasons. One, many of those bosses were ones I had not seen in years, and others had never seen as they leveled up, because they were located deep within longer dungeons or were once a part of tedious quest chains to be summoned only. Second, the gear they dropped was generally useful to newer level 80's or alts (that was mostly what I saw running those dungeons) as it was all 251 level. Third, it was a GREAT way to rack up huge amounts of Justice Points as you could chain run them and each kill was worth 16 Points. The very last day they kept the bosses available the entire time so that is all we did, chain run those 4 bosses.

As for the elementals themselves....enough with the elementals ok? You can only kill so many of them before it gets WAY to tedious. At least during the Wrath event you were getting rep, or stones to turn in for stuff. With this batch you got a feat of strength if you killed one of each type, a daily quest you had to make sure to pick up because it never showed up on the screen and a buff (different ones for each type of elemental). Yippee. No pets, no titles, no tabards, no nothing to clutter our bags with or at least make it KINDA worth while to go after the stupid things. So generally we all avoided them because unlike the Zombies, the NPC's could kill the elementals if they were out in the wild and they would eventually disappear on their own if they stayed to long. Are we REALLY suppose to take this threat seriously?

Now I didn't mind the quests so much. Some have complained they were to simple. The thing is they were for ALL level groups, so really, were you doing major trek all over the kingdom quests at level 5? No, that comes later, after you have established yourself as a "Kingslayer Hero" in full Epic gear with flying mount, THEN you traverse the universe slaying dragons. These quests did their simple job of introducing us to all the major players in Cataclysm. We now know who the first major "Bad Guy" is going to be, (because you know we aren't ready to take on Deathwing yet) and some Ogre by the name of Cho'gall who is hooked up with some Old God. We know that Thrall has gotten himself a female friend by the name of Aggra, another Shaman, his teacher, who eventually he plans to make his lover, and bride. (Something Thrall has desperately needed in his life.) We know a new cult has sprung up and that King Varian is handling things with as much tact as the TSA, this is going to result in the Defias showing back up, madder than ever.

The Elemental event did what it was suppose to do. There were parts of it I liked better than the Wrath event (the bosses) and parts that needed work (the elementals). I mean if we could have gotten a PET off of them or calmed them down or used totems on them or SOMETHING other than just mindlessly killing them all the time THAT would have been nice. I actually liked that the quests gave us a basic idea of what was going on and what was coming so players are not so dependent on out of game sources. There are still some things that will be a surprise or are just contained in the out of game books to make them worth reading.

Over all this is our third expansion and this game has undergone A LOT of changes as have we as players. When Burning Crusade was introduced about 8 Million people were playing World of Warcraft. The vast majority were still considered "Gamers" at heart with back grounds in table top and computer RP gaming or family members where that was true. Fast forward to today where we have 12 Million people. Console gamers have a much greater portion of the demographic, as well as what many term the "casual gamer". These are not individuals who pour over spread sheets or research everything that is coming out before it is released. Lets be honest if it isn't happening right under their nose, they have no clue what is going on. They either don't have the time or the inclination. Expectations of these types of gamers are very different and lets be honest OUR expectations have changed as well.

Do I have a favorite of the three? No. They have all done their jobs. The one nice thing about Blizzard is that they always learn from each thing they do. What works, what doesn't, how can they improve. As much as we may gripe and complain they DO take the feedback they get from their customers into consideration as well as what they have in their over all game design. As I read in the recent Magazine sometimes that feedback will lead them into a completely different direction than where they were originally planning to go.  At this point I am ready to go into Cataclysm.

No comments:

Post a Comment