The Firelands, the next big raid and conclusion of the current Hyjal storyline when we kick Ragnaros arse again, has been moved from Patch 4.1 to 4.2. The World of Warcraft playerbase is furious and many are confused by the conflicting responses given by Blizzard blue Bashiok and developer J. Allen Brack. As a result, there's been a revolt, just take my server, for example. The queues for content continue to be insanely long (especially if you are, like me, DPS) and many of my friends have quit WoW or just burned out in frustration at the amount of reused content or changes wrought by Cataclysm. The Firelands change has been, for many, the final straw.
The news came in a GDC interview last week with EU site Eurogamer. Prior to this, other than mumblings about legendary weapons, there had been almost nothing in the patch notes about the raid. As a result many players began to wonder where exactly it was, especially given how Blizzard focused a lot of attention on the Firelands as being THE raid of 4.1 during last years BlizzCon.
The thing is, this decision was not a carefully debated, well thought out one. Oh no, it smacks of a last minute er what are we doing decision. Take this admission from Zarhym:
So there you have it, 4.1 is on the PTR but stocked full of content not going live until 4.2. But the thing which has been annoying many players (including me) is the line up of recycled content that we can expect in the next big patch. In my mind it actually defeats the point of having a big content patch.
You see, theres been a tradition in MMOs. You buy the game or its expansion and over the story arc, the developers give you a wealth of free content in a series of large content patches spaced more or less evenly through the games life cycle. Just look at DC Universe Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Aion and a dozen other games. They all follow a similar format and this includes WoW. Until now at least. Heres what Bashiok said shortly after Eurogamers original news article referencing their chat with J. Allen Brack popped up on the internet:
Huh? To break that down hes basically saying a) youre not prepared and b) we want it to be epic. Personally, I think he actually means c) were behind and we didnt want their tier to be as untested as Nefarian/Sinestra/Ascendant Council/AlAkir/ChoGall/All of the above.
As a player, and a journalist, I would have been much more willing to listen had Blizzard just been open and honest about their intentions. I dont believe for a second - and Im convinced the amount of 4.2 content in the PTR is evidence of that - that Blizzard panicked after the elite guilds took down all their endgame bosses so quickly and then critiqued them on how to make the encounters better by pointing out the many, many flaws in the encounters.
And, of course, the unfortunate side effect of this is the annoyance of the players, many of whom are seeing the reimplementation of so much recycled content as the death knell of WoW. Theyve moaned on the forums, accounts have been canceled and players have been keen to announce how they gone to explore other games, like Rift. At that point WoW is going to die not by being supplanted better game but because of the lazy lies of its developers who seem to truly believe they can lie, straight-faced, to the people who give them $15 each month. Theyve forgotten that, the most important part of running a business, and ignoring the people who pay your bills is tantamount to professional suicide.
The other problem is when the playerbase does complain, those that whinge are usually labeled by the community as a rather vocal minority. And players whinge a lot, about the most trivial things. Unfortunately, in this case, the vocal minority is right and justified. They're complaining because they spent money on an unfinished game, they're complaining because corners are being cut and they are complaining because they feel short-changed and lied to by the people who created WoW.
The community as a whole would have a lot more respect for Blizzard if they just stood up, raised their hands and admitted that a) Cataclysm was unfinished when it was released in December, b) that the decision to move Firelands was a snap one made very recently because of c), that Blizzard never finished testing the endgame raid content, like Sinestra, Nafarian and every other boss that was hotfixed after the initial encounter by high end guilds like Paragon or Ensidia.
At the end of the day, WoW relies on its players and Cataclysm's success is not measured just in first day/week sales but by the content patches which serve to reignite flagging interest and, of course, the storyline itself. We've heard the venting on the official forums but how do you, our readers, feel about the unfinished state of Cataclysm and the conflicting reasons Blizzard has given for moving the Firelands raid? Are you disappointed by the amount of recycled content? Tell us in the comments box below.
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