Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such.

Well, after a two-month hiatus, I’m back. While we did see The Burning Crusade slip into 2007, Blizzard was at least kind enough to make World of Warcraft worth playing until then by rolling out patch 2.0.1. The patch, appropriately titled “Before the Storm,” introduces a slew of new features that give players some things to do before the expansion drops in January. While the patch isn’t a substitute for a long-overdue expansion pack, it was enough to get me to not play Gears of War for a few nights.

I gave up PvPing in any form once the cross-battleground patch hit. While I had been straying away from PvP action because I had better things to do than PvP in World of Warcraft for 8 hours a day, I just gave up on it once the bottle-pissers could literally PvP for 20 straight hours. While I appreciated the shorter queues and the ability to get into a group with new people from new servers that could tell me “j00 suXX!1,” I just got disgusted with the overall lack of progression I could make towards the honor rewards. A system that punishes players that have higher priorities than a game doesn’t seem like the original purpose of PvP rankings and rewards. To use a cliché from the message boards, the system rewarded bottle-pissers who could just sink in 20 hours a day to PvPing and not skilled players.

The system introduced in the recent patch actually has me PvPing again. Killing off the ranking system and letting you pool points has revitalized the sandbox PvP style that World of Warcraft utilizes. I’ll eventually get the points to spend on PvP rewards, though it may not be for months. Ok, let’s put it another way, the new system allows more players to feel like they’re actually progressing towards a goal. Since World of Warcraft has essentially been stagnant at level 60 since its release (sure, we got more raid dungeons, but those get boring after the 50th time you run them), giving another element of progression to players is a very good thing. The arena system shows real promise, and brings a new dimension to PvP combat.

The patch also brought in fully redone talent trees that have the Burning Crusade talents. These trees are mostly similar to the old ones, but they brought in new high-level talents and some interesting abilities. While my rogue is essentially still the same white-damage Godzilla using a combat daggers spec, I can’t help but laugh every time I see a druid in tree form. But even though they look silly, tree-form druids get some good healing bonuses. Plus, it makes for interesting emotes when your group is sitting around.

Really though, the patch is just the tip of the iceberg that The Burning Crusade is set to bring us. I have no complaints at this moment. Yet, part of me is burnt out on World of Warcraft to the point that I’m only getting on to make organized guild runs. This is the case-in-point on why delaying an expansion this long is a very bad thing. I know, it is hard to argue with World of Warcraft’s success. It has a massive amount of subscribers around the world, and people are still playing. Blizzard manages to keep the content flowing semi-regularly, and they’ve continued to convince people to renew their subscriptions despite the blatant lack of new races, continents, levels, or anything else that an expansion would bring. Yet even with Blizzard’s success with World of Warcraft, I have to wonder if they’re planning into the future.

One of the biggest fears I have with the expansion is that they’re essentially going to do exactly what they did with the original game: dump it out into the market and sit back for another 2 years before they release an expansion pack. While Blizzard is assuring people that it will be hard to power-level from 60 to 70, I’m not sure that’s entirely the point. It’s kind of silly to assume that people will rush out and max out all of the content within a week, but I don’t think it is too off the mark to say that you’re going to see the first wave of guilds finishing off the content in six months, maybe less. Then what? Do we get another 10 major patches over two years before another expansion? That seems a bit off.

Internet rumors have claimed that Vivendi/Blizzard have a plan that would pump out two expansions a year. While this would be nice, it seems pretty unrealistic going on past experiences with Blizzard. Blizzard as a whole isn’t known for being a quick-developing company, and just the experience with World of Warcraft shows that they’re dragging on developing expansion packs. While World of Warcraft is still the dominant MMORPG on the market, how much longer can the game sustain its subscription base without more expansion packs?

While I don’t expect Blizzard to be open about future development plans, it really seems like they’re a big question mark after The Burning Crusade. Going further than that, I’m even more curious as to the future of their other franchises. The rumor mill is still churning that the next Diablo installment will be revealed sometime soon (again, I’m looking towards the E3-style-event-that-isn’t-the-old-E3 thing in the spring), and part of me is dreading the words “Diablo MMORPG” or “Starcraft MMORPG.” I have serious doubts that these games would actually work out, and Diablo in particular would be entering into an oversaturated fantasy genre.

Honestly, I’d really like to see a traditional game come out of Blizzard. The RTS genre needs a boost in the arm, and Warcraft IV or Starcraft II would provide a top-flight game to make up for the years of crap we’ve had to endure (Command and Conquer Generals, I’m looking at you). Yeah, Command and Conquer 3 is on the horizon, and I have full faith it will be just as mediocre as Command and Conquer Generals was. Hell, even Diablo III would be a good title, since I can’t remember the last time I even touched a hack-and-slash title for more than one play-through. Yet, I have doubts that I’ll see any of those titles soon, especially with Blizzard and Vivendi seeing massive dollar signs in the MMORPG market.

And as for me…

Someone popped me an email asking what I’ve been up to in-game. I’ve been mostly running Zul Gurub with my guild once a week and playing as a few low level alts to kill time. Honestly, most of my gaming time has gone to Gears of War on the Xbox 360, and I’m just starting to get back into World of Warcraft with the recent patch.

The column took a long break, and that’s mostly my fault. Lucky for all of you, I’ll have way more to write about once the expansion hits (or misses the release date). Expect one more update in 2006, and at least one update before the release of The Burning Crusade. While I may be slow to answer emails during the Holidays (meaning pretty much until the release of the expansion pack), I’ll still try to get back to anyone that writes in. Check back here next week for a new installment, and I promise it won’t be another rant about the expansion or delays.

As usual, if you have any comments, complaints, concerns, or fan mail, send them to I’ll try to answer all E-mails personally, and you may wind up in a future mailbag column.

Posted: 12/23/2006