Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wrath of the Lich King

Lich Train's a comin'!  Toot, toot!The other night I finally got around to rolling a Death Knight in World of Warcraft and playing through the starting areas. It was good, I guess - a huge step foward for World of Warcraft, anyway - but it wasn't the Second Coming of Blizzard that I'd been promised.

The more bells and whistles Blizzard hangs on the DikuMUD formula, the more it reminds me that the entirety of WoW is built on the bones of an 18-year-old text adventure. It's like if Namco were still devoting the totality of their corporate effort to getting Pac-Man just right.

In a way it even feels like a step back. The much-lauded "phasing" content, whereby your perception of the world changes as you complete quests, is only a short step from instancing, and the knowledge that other players aren't seeing the same world as me brutally grates on my suspension of disbelief. When I'm taken to the Death Knight assault on Light Hope Chapel I'm unable to forget that this isn't the real Light Hope Chapel but rather an ersatz copy spawned entirely for my benefit, and that elsewhere, in the real Plaguelands, people are interacting with these NPCs entirely oblivious to the devastation I'm wreaking.

I'm hopeful that in as little as five years we'll be looking back on this as the unbelievably primitive scratchings of neanderthals on cave walls, but in the mean time it's perhaps appropriate in an expansion about undeath that the bleached skull of Azeroth should show through so clearly. It feels like in the attempt to hear the story of Warcraft I've lost that sense of it being the world of Warcraft.

5 comments:

David Cake said...

I find the use of phasing later on (when essentially there are two fully inhabited versions of the world, both full of other people, one for people who have unlocked the content and one who haven't) feels a lot more natural. Natural enough it didn't bother me at all, and actually felt more natural than otherwise I think.

Greg Tannahill said...

I'll have to see how that looks when I get to it.

The problem with WoW is that every time there's an expansion or a patch it just reminds me that I -still- haven't seen all the content from the original pre-expansion game yet. I've never seen the last two bosses of MC, or the inside of Naxx or AQ. I guess maybe I will now that everyone can get to 80.

Chris said...

"The more bells and whistles Blizzard hangs on the DikuMUD formula, the more it reminds me that the entirety of WoW is built on the bones of an 18-year-old text adventure."

Oh how acutely I feel this, just from *watching* people play World of Warcraft! :) Except I would cite LP-MUD, but the Diku's were essentially the same thing.

Best wishes!

Greg Tannahill said...

But it's such a good text adventure. :-)

WoW Gold Guide said...

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