My copy of the new World of Warcraft expansion arrived in my mailbox on Monday. So, I popped it in and took it for a spin. There's some good and some bad with WoW these days.
One bright beacon of light is that all of the content in the new expansion has already been conquered by the most elite of all guilds in the world. Before my copy was even in my hands. I like this because it does tell me that Blizzard seems to be getting wise about their past "make-it-so-hard-no-one-can-beat-it-quickly" mentality of balancing their content. Raiding content after you hit the maximum level shouldn't be a struggle for the average player and guild. What good is spending half your companies resources on parts of the game only a minority of players will ever encounter or see? Better to cater to the majority of players and get more people rolling through the content and having fun. I am hopeful that this will slowly leave the more "hard core" crowd looking for bigger and better challenges in other games.
I also like the look and feel of the new areas. The Death Knight starting area is nice and different. And the Northrend areas I saw as Alliance are awesome looking. As usual, the artists employed by Blizzard are amazingly good at what they do. And the new areas are able to convey a feeling and mood as well as a sense of place. The quests clearly pay homage to the fact that you are not a schlub and you are a hero who can make a difference. Despite my knowing how ironic it is, it's still a nice touch when you are basically soloing.
My characters are a mess. The mechanics seem out of whack. I have no idea what's important for my classes anymore. And, I'm a little upset that the game seems to radically change every expansion. I'm not sure it's getting better each time, either. In typical Blizzard fashion, I have no in-game help to let me know what stats are important to my character or what gear is better or worse than other gear. I'm level seventy and I have been playing the game for four years and I am back to feeling like my seasoned character has no clue how to be good at the game. It's frustrating and bad design.
I guess two out of three isn't bad for a game that's been around the block a while.