Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
Since getting into the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Beta I have been flooded by questions about it by friends, guild mates, and just about everyone else. Everyone wants to know about something in the beta, whether it is how a Death Knight plays, which professions should they level, who is best in PvP or any number of other questions. However the most often asked question is "What's it like compared to the Burning Crusade?".
More Smaller Quest Hubs and Flight Points
Many players that had played at the old level cap of 60 for a long time before the Burning Crusade was released, had a lot invested in their characters and saw it all vanish is in a puff of smoke when they entered the Outlands. All the gear and skills they had raided for, crafted or earned were replaced within a very few levels in the first expansion. Other players who were still leveling to 60 were still concerned due to the difference in content difficulty as they moved into the Outlands.
All the past experiences that players have had when moving from the core game to the expansion lead to concerns over what will happen moving to the second expansion. This got me thinking about the questions as well, how does WotLk compared to BC?
On of the biggest issues in the first expansion was the starting area. Since there was only one starting zone, it was packed. During the first few weeks after launch just getting around in Hellfire Peninsula was difficult, you had to watch out or you would be stepping on someone's toes. This was annoying on PvE servers and down right deadly on PvP servers. To fix this, Blizzard implemented two starting zones in WotLK. Both are available for both factions to start in however The Howling Fjord is a bit more Horde biased and the Borean Tundra is a bit more Alliance biased. Score one for WotLK (1-0).
Congestion in early zones led to quest competition Everyone was competing for the same resources and kills and this lead to frustration, delays, and eventual griefing between players. In an attempt to minimize this in WotLK, Blizzard separated the starting areas for each faction in each zone a little more, and added additional faction quests that focus on different resources and kills. They also added what seems like many more quests in each zones and broke them up into many more small quest hubs. This also makes questing far less frustrating as you very rarely need to run across a whole zone to turn something in. You get to a small quest hub, complete quests near it, then move to the next one. Another point for WotLK (2-0).
Getting around in the Burning Crusade could be a little frustrating at times. You wanted to go to a zone, but the flight point there was on the wrong side of the zone. Most zones had two flight points, some had a third, but that was about it. In WotLK there are many more travel points and they seem to be spaced out much better than in BC. This makes moving around between the zones, or even in the same zone, much better than it was. The one exception to the ease of travel is actually getting to Dalaran the first time. You will not normally get to it until you reach level 74 and get a quest that takes you there, however many players will obsess about getting there right away. This has led to many mages joking that they are now food-sheep-dalaran spec'ed now instead of just food-sheep spec. Still, its another point for WotLK (3-0).
One of the biggest complaints with BC was that everyone was in rainbow gear almost immediately after entering the expansion. Everything that dropped was so much better than everything previously found that by level 62 most players were in all greens and blues instead of their old purple epic sets. Blizzard listed and in WotLK there is better gear right away for many players (new level 70's), but players that raided and spent time gearing up will get a little more use from their items (as they should). Instead of expecting to change all your gear in the first level or two, as you did in BC, expect a slow progression to new gear over the levels of 72-78 for most raid players. This is yet another improvement from BC, score for WotLK (4-0).
Multiple Starting Zones, Borean Tundra is just one of them
The last big change was how instances are worked into the game. Instances now have more tie in quests to link them to the story line, compelling players to venture into them. In addition they have been simplified slightly so that group composition is more forgiving than in the past. Also they have been shortened so that players do not need to commit any more than about an hour to complete most of them. All of these points make them better for most players. My issue with this one is that they almost feel too simple. I know Blizzard wants to include everyone, but they should be some challenge here, and I really want them to be harder. There was some sense of reward to beating the BC instances that is missing from those in WotLK. So, while most players will give the advantage to WotLK, I call it even due to lack of difficulty, so still (4-0).
As you can see, there is almost no single category where I would say that the Burning Crusade was better than the Wrath of the Lich King is so far in Beta. This is not to say that BC was a bad expansion, it's just that Blizzard has taken all that was good about the first expansion and fine tuned it. They also took anything that was flawed, threw it out and made it new.
The biggest issues that most players had with BC was the super congested starting zone and the fact that almost all gear was replaced by blues and greens less than a level or two into the expansion. Blizzard listened carefully to these issues and completely reworked how you enter this expansion compared to the first. Instead of one starting zone with essentially two main quest hubs, you have two complete starting zones, each with easily over a dozen smaller quest hubs. They also slowed the gear progression down enough that players that invested a lot of time in their gear will continue to get some use out of it while leveling. They will still need to replace it eventually, but it will likely be 4-8 levels after entering the expansion rather than finding first green that drops being better than their raid epic.
As you can see, I am quite impressed with the expansion so far. While I haven't had a chance to experience the new end game, the expansion beginning and mid game is head and shoulders above the old beginning and mid level game, which was better than most other games out there. Once again Blizzard has a superbly polished product in the works, almost ready to be released and to continue their domination of the MMORPG market.
The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours? Do you like Blizzards direction? Is something obvious missing? Will WoW fend of WAR?
Email me at: Byron Mudry - ([email protected]) or post in our forums (linked below).
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.