Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pre-Cataclysm Patch

So.. WoW v4 is out. Here are my thoughts.

1) The big bang button to start WoW is annoying. DEVs already promised to 'fix that'.

2) My character now has some animations in the character selection screen. Nice.

3) Graphics are better - they can be fine tuned to optimize for fps. Works well.

4) Water looks perfect .. if you wanted to have water look like in laboratory conditions. I do not. Water should have waves. Of course that is asking for a lot, but really: The new water is perfect for a strange mysterious lake with deep waters. But it is not very immersive that all lakes - including the ocean are like this. There is a lot of work to be done here for the graphic guys. And also for the sound engineers, btw: Why is there never a storm on Azeroths coasts?

5) Under water now looks non-credible. You can see as if you were looking through air. Even dark lakes suddenly look light-green once you are under water. This probably had to be done to allow for under-water content in Cataclysm. I do not like to move underwater as if I were on land, but I agree that it is the only way to make under-water content feasible. Conclusion: Scrap-under water content. (Not gonna happen, of course.)

So much for an introduction. Now let's get to the meat:

I played an arcane/fire/ice mage in BGs/5man dungeons so far. In theory the new game mechanics are great. You have a limited amount of abilities that are interconnected. Easy to learn, hard to master. Great.

About the fire mage: Here this seems especially well done! You have several abilities that basically set everything on fire. What I do not really understand, however, is how this goes together with the less-aoe style of Cataclysm? If tanks cannot hold AoE-aggro, why do I get so many abilities that are just about aoe? On pure single target fights I will only be able to use fireball/pyroblast now.

Arcane has incredibly insane damage bursts on single target. My average item lvl is 255 with a focus on haste (former arcane mage). During cooldowns I crit on target dummies for up to 53k with a single 2s arcane blast! That is self buffed / self debuffed!
I wonder how my 10k fireballs are supposed to beat that dps? However, Blizzard already announced to nerf mages, especially fire mages.

Here comes my main concern:
Although it is great in theory to have so many interconnected abilities, I feel like playing against my action bar instead of playing against NPCs/PCs. I do not think that this is just due to necessary training alone. There are random proccs all the time that I need to respond to. That makes me look too much on my action bar! Now, I know that there are well-visible warnings in the center of my screen now, but they do not show the running GCD! I do not have the time to look at the actual battle.

Of course, I have 24% unbuffed haste, so this char is especially demanding when it comes to quick reaction times. But I am full of doubt at this time. Also during WotLK I prefered classic BGs. They always felt more interesting. You had more time to actually look what was going on - especially in PvP. (In PvE you never should look up since WotLK, because the rampard spell effects create a headache. I doubt this will change with Cata.)

Now, I PvP with a PvE geared fire mage, so there will be a remarkable difference to a resilience-buffed 85 PvP mage. But I do not feel like I die too fast. In fact, it is ok. I have 40m range, 2-3 shields (depending on specc), blink, invisibility, mirror images, rocket boots, snares, knockbacks (arcane mana shield collapse), CC. My survivability seems ok. But the game is still too fast.

So my main concern in one sentence:
I feel like fighting a very fast action bar instead of mobs/players.

What should be done about it?
My suggestion is to allow players to have a plan about what buttons to press (not so many random proccs). They should need to change this plan no more often than every 10s in a battle, better 20s. To make the entire game random-procc based diminishes your feeling to have your character under control and puts you on constant stress. The game becomes too much about the next second and not enough about the next 20 seconds.

About myself:
I play WoW since release and computer games for 15 years now. I am 30. If the games feels too fast for my taste, it certainly feels too fast for a lot of players.


  1. Welcome to our world of grumpy old men, constantly complaining that every change to video games seems to make them more hectic and twitch-based. One day somebody is going to make billions by creating a turn-based MMORPG for us.

  2. Thanks for the welcoming, Tobold, and I think a turn-based MMO could actually be a lot of fun. :)

    However, there is a steady increase of required 'twitchiness' in WoW. i do not think that I am nostalgic here. Two days ago my mage was less twitchy!

    Let's see how it works out. I doubt that decision on 1-second scale that are based on random proccs are a step ion the right direction.

    I already worte: You should feel like having a fight under control for most of the time and should change your 'plan' only every now and then, so things do not become boring.

  3. I think it's practice. You're used to a rotation or priority system that was aided by 2 years of practice and add-on development.

    Give yourself a couple months of tinkering and you'll stop staring at your bars. You might need to look at them occasionally, but soon you'll develop proc alerts that only require peripheral vision, if that.

    I think the patch is a winner.

    Easier, more intuitive talent builds. Everyone was using the same ones, anyway. Plenty of new opportunity for tinkering and complexity with forging and 9 glyphs to change on the fly.

    Evaluating stats is easier (hit rating calculated!!). Better graphics overall, and new content on the horizon.

    I think they improved a great product.

  4. I agree that a large part of that is practice. And I still have hopes that all chars will die in an epic event when Cataclysm comes out.

    Then we will all start a new char and have fun learning to play our chars in a crowded low lvl place.

    You can dream ..

  5. Hi Nils,

    I've been catching up on your posts here and enjoying them quite a bit. I suggestion, though: consider adding pictures for some things or more explicit description. The water, for example, I'm not sure what you're talking about. Apart from that, keep at it, man!


  6. Thanks, Syeric.

    However, I do not put pictures in here as that would really require a lot of time.

    You will have to start WoW yourself and switch between the "low" setting for water (the old water) and "ultra" setting.