Wednesday 3 November 2010

Regulation 571.111

As m’colleague put it:

Objects In The Starter Area May Appear More/Less Awesome Than They Actually Are.

I hopped in to World of Warcraft last night and rolled up a new character along with m’colleague and our power armour bearded friend, for a quick blast around to get ourselves back into the swing of things, tweak UIs, try to remember how half the functionality of the game worked, remind ourselves how frustrating it is to only have sixteen bag slots, that sort of thing.

Watching xBevisx run around on his Cataclysmified Warrior was a bit of a revelation for me; I’d pretty much decided to play a Warrior come the launch of Cataclysm, but seeing him run around at level six, firing off his Victory Rush ability and healing himself to full at the start of each fight, with said mobs generally exploding in a misty cloud of blood after one massive swipe of his two-handed weapon, completely sold me on the idea. His non-stop gleeful chortling as he slaughtered the starter area wholesale added a certain weight to the idea that the class was pretty fun to play.

It’s an issue though: Blizzard have clearly tweaked classes to make them more appealing earlier in their careers – we hadn’t even reached level ten and picked up our defining abilities from our chosen talent tree – and it seems that the classes have been adjusted to give players core abilities very early on. M’colleague also pulled out a fine example to backup his quote mentioned at the start of this post. In City of Heroes the Blaster and the Controller were two classes that couldn’t be more separated in the fun stakes. In the early days of CoH the Blaster, archetypal DPS, could one shot most mobs from range, with perhaps a couple of shots being required for tougher opponents. The Controller, on the other hand, having the ability to lock down opponents and stop them from operating, was balanced by having little in the way of damage output. Thus the majority of game-play for a Controller involved holding a mob and then punch-punch-punch-hold-punch-punching your way to victory. It was a long, dull, painful process and not a lot of fun outside of a group, and not an epic amount of fun in one either. Eventually, however, come level thirty two, Controllers got their ultimate ability: pets. Once they had their pets the Controller could hold huge groups of mobs, and then using their secondary powerset to enhance their pets, use the pets to slaughter these massive mobs wholesale with absolute impunity. The Blaster, on the other hand, could still dish out huge amounts of damage, but they were left incredibly vulnerable if they didn’t take everything out in one giant alpha strike, which was often not possible in the more difficult areas of the game, especially where Boss level NPCs lived. Controllers became the end-game Gods, Blasters were relegated to a lesser position.

I wonder how the class population of Warcraft will shift with these new changes in place, especially when the next influx of new characters arrives with the new races that are being released in Cataclysm. It’s fun to see how populations at level eighty change with the various patches, but I’d also be interested to know if there are ‘population clumps’ for characters that never reached the level cap. Are there certain level ranges where certain classes are regularly abandoned for one reason or another? Certainly the Warrior looks like a lot of fun in the early levels now, but will that continue, or will players become disheartened when they see Paladins being able to do equal DPS, but also being able to heal and buff and provide other utility skills? I wonder whether players these days even focus on what the character can do at the start of the game, or if they only focus on how the class is purported to play at the end-game.

I’m set to play my Warrior come Cataclysm, but I’m definitely more prepared, as long as I remember that Objects In The Starter Area May Appear More Awesome Than They Actually Are, my expectations should hopefully be set accordingly.

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