Troll Female, by Samwise

I mentioned in my latest PvP post that I’m thinking of returning to Azeroth in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. My wife has discussed it as well. Let’s take a look at what Blizzard is doing that’s actually got my attention, and might possibly earn them some of my money, as well. If nothing else, it’s worth considering that this is how my wife & I met, so they must’ve done something right at some point.

Azerothian Gravel Pit (Kinda)

Courtesy Valve

‘Gravel Pit’ is a map in Team Fortress 2. My wife discussed the rated battlegrounds coming to World of Warcraft, and I was immediately reminded of the potential for rated matches in that game, as well. There’s also the fact that, on the superior PC version I’ve yet to play, playing TF2 for any period of time allows you to unlock new equipment. When you get right down to it, how is this any different from rated matches in World of Warcraft?

(Other than the two games being completely different on a fundamental level, yes, I know, shut up.)

One of the things about TF2 that works is when players work together for a common objective. Gravel Pit, for example, is a territory control map where one team (RED) defends while the other (BLU) attacks. You get that in battlegrounds in WoW, but to a lesser extent, since nothing’s really at stake other than personal rating and badges. Arenas do away with the whole overarching objective entirely, since the only real objective is “See those other guys? No, it doesn’t matter who they are or where they’re from. Just beat ’em into a pulp.” It’s not bad in quick bursts now and again, but doing that over and over, for me, gets a bit tedious.

Battlegrounds mix things up. They focus the efforts of a faction on an objective, and while they won’t quite reach the scope of huge open battles in world PvP (or RvR if you will), they still invoke more of that feeling of esprit de corps I talk about. And with the introduction of ratings and the promise of end-level gear every bit as good as what you’d get in arenas, there seems more incentive for me to hop into the queue with the promise to the Alliance to be “a grim bloody fable with an unhappy bloody end.”

Controllers Are Useful Again

Courtesy WoWWiki/Blizzard
Sheeping a dragon would be nothing short of epic, to say nothing of funny.

One of my biggest complaints about playing end-game content in World of Warcraft was being a damage dealer tended to be a bit boring. Now, granted, I was playing as a hunter and, according to some, it’s a class that requires the least amount of skill to play. However, in trying to play the class well, I’d worked on things like managing aggro, shot rotation and savvy use of traps.

Most of the end-game dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King took most of those things and threw them from the top of Icecrown Citadel with a deep-throated laugh. Aggro management doesn’t mean squat when the tank generates so much aggro that you could drop a tactical nuclear strike on the mob, or the mob’s hometown, and they’d still have a bigger bone to pick with the tank than with you. Shot rotation still sort of mattered, but only so you wouldn’t have to slow the group down by asking for time to recharge. And traps? Pfft. Who needs crowd control when the tank’s laying down area of effect damage that makes the TF2 demoman’s grenades look like water balloons?

Thankfully, Cataclysm seems to be addressing these issues. In fact, it seems like damage-dealers are going to have to think a bit more when going into dungeons (a scary prospect, I know). Like healers, as my wife mentioned, you’ll need to pay attention to the world around you instead of focusing on the ever-expanding numbers of your DPS meter. There’s a big difference between the knowledge that you’re doing the same thing that 3 other people in the group are doing, and knowing that you need to keep that really ornery ogre over there locked down or else it’ll grab the healer and start beating up the other party members with him or her. It makes the damage-dealer feel more useful, dungeon encounters more exciting and reaching the final boss and blasting them into next week more rewarding.

A Fresh Start

Courtesy Blizzard
I hear the banshee’s call.

Ever since Warcraft III, I’ve really liked the undead. The unique aesthetic, macabre sense of humor and unorthodox means of waging war all appealed to me. My first Horde character in World of Warcraft, if I recall correctly, was a Forsaken warrior. But I haven’t played Forsaken, really, since Burning Crusade, mostly because when the blood elves were first introduce I went a little bonkers. The blood elves were the faction I liked most in the Frozen Throne, though Sylvanas forming the Forsaken was a very close runner-up in terms of story. Which brings me back to what I’ll be doing when I return to Azeroth.

I’ve never really given the mage class a fair shake. As much as I love the World of Darkness game of the same name (both of them, even if the new one’s thicker and more difficult to digest than a badly made Yorkshire pudding), mages and I have had a tumultuous relationship. I think most of it’s a failing on my part, i.e. being unable to grasp the nuances of handling more than one mob with crowd control spells. With crowd control making a comeback, and considering the likelihood that my wife and I will be playing on an RP-PVP server, it’s time I cleared my mind of other class choices, actually engage my brain while playing the game, and give mages another try. Guns, bows, knives and hammers, to me, will never have anything on “giant laser beam face melty death.”

So I’ll be returning to Azeroth in the slightly decaying skin of a Forsaken mage. I might try a blood elf warrior (they’re spell-breakers, dammit) or a tauren priest at some point (because cows in a dress are hilarious) but getting back to the roots of what I enjoy in Warcraft while trying something I never quite got the hang of before feels like the right way to go.

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy

I have a lot of nostalgia for WoW. I’m hopeful that the proposed changes and updates will move the game back towards what it was when I first started playing, when I met my wife, when I really enjoyed it. I know that Blizzard is continuing to homogenize the classes (eww) and some of the race/class combinations don’t sit well with the established lore and its proponents, like myself (NIGHT ELF MAGES EEEEWWWWW) and I’m definitely staying Horde-side to stay out of the inevitable “Edward or Jacob” discussions that’ll take place between worgen and human players. Ick.

Anyway, the comments section awaits you. Give me your thoughts. Tell me Blizzard just wants another yacht. Offer me and my blushing bride Scrolls of Resurrection. Promise me cake. Even if it, like the idea of 25-man dungeon disappearing being the worst idea ever, is a lie.