Not a troll post, forgive me for being verbose, but browsing this forum I figure a thread where we can throw around constructive criticism about this behemoth and weigh the pros and cons of its design and the experience it provides could be rather interesting.
Why WoW fails to entice me (for extended periods of time. Been playing on and off since Jan of '06)
Simplicity (to the max!):
I suppose I can draw a small parallel between WoW and an iPhone app for comparison. An iPhone app is simple. Mostly bare bones, just what's needed. Sleek design, but the ultimate entertainment of an iPhone app is simple. That's why it's so accessable, and that's why it sells. Anyone can do it, and it offers a fair amount of entertainment without forcing the user to think too hard. Now, WoW isn't a button you press to make a fart sound. It's infinitely more complex than that. However, compared to the rest of the gaming world, the ultimate goal remains relatively simple. No more than a handful of buttons are absolutely necessary to make it to the game's highest level. And as far as questing goes, you get a paragraph of text that essentially tells you to kill wolves until you've collected 12 of their scrotums. Only, it's not scrotums, it's furs. But scrotums would make more sense, and I'll tell you why...
Illogical, Reduntant, And Extremely Un-Heroic Quests And Gameplay:
See, logically, if I were told to go and kill wolves until I had collected 12 scrotums, it would make sense that I would likely have to kill more than 12. Some wolves are male, some are female, some wolves might have had their junk torn off on a branch... whatever. However, every wolf has skin. Every wolf has fur. So why I have to kill 30 of them to collect 12 skins is beyond me. And for that matter, WHY am I killing wolves when there are demons and lich kings to kill, princesses to save (if she's not in another castle) all that jazz. The game essentially offers me quests to kill and collect or go talk to this guy for almost the entirety of my experience. Nothing new or exciting happens, ever. No random monster attack on a village, no highwaymen erecting a roadblock and refusing to let you pass until you've paid their toll. Nothing. The only reason I have to play is to get to the next level, which brings me to my next point...
Lack Of Immersion, Or Personal Investment In Protagonist:
Of course, MY character(s) is/are MY protagonist(s). Let's diagnose what qualifies as immersive, and what qualifies as personal investment. Story is immersive, but as I've pointed out, WoW is severely lacking in that department. Completely devoid of a personal struggle, an epic quest of discovery, character development, a moral path, a linear or even non-linear chain of events that define my character. In essence, I'm a hero who is on a mission much like Ash Ketchum's, only instead of trying to catch em all, I'm just trying to kill em all. Every animal, sentient creature, or abomination that I come across I pretty much want to kill. Now, the world Blizzard has built, I'll give it credit. It can be rather breathtaking at times. But I feel that most of that sense of discovery is lost through a third person perspective. Have you ever tried zooming in all the way until you can't go anymore, and you're practically looking through your character's eyes? It changes the feel of the entire world. I wouldn't pvp from this viewpoint, but I'd definitely run around in it if it weren't so boring. I can't see my hands as I swing my axe or cast a spell. I feel if Blizzard allowed players to turn off the character fade out as you zoom in, this issue would be corrected. However, that option seems to be locked. Now, let's examine personal investment. We don't define personal investment by time spent or effort put forth, but by what we stand to lose. And there isn't anything to lose in WoW. In Everquest, if you die you lose experience. It's possible to actually go down a level if you lose enough experience. In EVE Online, if you die, you LOSE YOUR SHIP. You'll get some of the cost of the ship itself minus guns, ammo, and cargo back (if you had insurance). If you have a good corporation (guild) they'll help you out. Otherwise you just have to make due with what you have and try and get back on your feet. In Warhammer, well, you've got me there. In WAR you just get a debuff, which is for all intents and purposes, typically less of a pain in the ass than an armor bill. However, WAR is almost entirely pvp, and once those debuffs stack they start to hurt. Without personal investment, without something to lose, there is no struggle. No reason to try my hardest to survive and best my foe. Without any real struggle, and a consequence should I fail, I'm essentially just pressing buttons. And that isn't very interesting at all.
Offers Me Nothing I Can't Find Somewhere Else:
Extremely little is unique about WoW. The gameplay is, in essence, identical to its predecessors like Everquest. And before Everquest, there were MUDs. And before MUDs, there was dungeons and dragons. All pretty much the same mechanic, just different mediums. In fact, most of the features of WoW that are most enjoyed by its players are taken from other games. Raiding, quite obviously, is something that's been in Everquest forever. Battlegrounds are an idea taken from DAoC. The achievement tracker is pretty much a rip off of a similar system found in Warhammer, released around the same time. Even the idea of Warcraft (the rts) was taken from the Warhammer tabletop game. What Blizzard excels at is taking good ideas from their competitors and throwing a little Blizzard polish and razzle dazzle on it, and then presenting it as something new in their game. Some might argue that, coming from a game with 11 million subscribers, that might be unfair business tactics. But whatever, we're not here to debate that. Speaking of Warhammer...
(Contd. next post)