Thursday, December 9, 2010

Archeology and other Cataclysm thoughts

Archeology is a complete waste of time. I love it! This is exactly the sort of sub-game a MMORPG like World of Warcraft needs. Not strictly required for progress, but with nice fluff rewards in the long term. A simple mini-game, but well integrated into the world and lore of Azeroth, and playable for weeks and months. I especially appreciate how well Archeology ties in with the make-over of Azeroth and the ability to fly in the old world: Flying from dig site to dig site allows you to rediscover Azeroth in its new shape.

But of course at the moment I'm mostly busy leveling up my "main" to 85. I made level 81 on the first day, and that was just doing quests and a few dungeons in an evening session. Level 82 took two sessions. Unlike Wrath of the Lich King it appears that in Cataclysm each level takes longer than the previous one, which I find sensible.

I'm still somewhere in the middle of Vashj'ir questing, but that zone is already getting on my nerves. While I don't mind smaller quest hubs and being guided from one spot to the next, I think that this guidance should be optional, and include the ability to skip quests or whole quest hubs, like it is in new Azeroth. Vashj'ir is not only extremely linear, it also forces you through that linear tube without any freedom to skip ahead. You get to some cave, do half a dozen quests for the NPC quest givers there, and get sent on to the next cave. I must be on the tenth or so cave of that sort, and it is getting old.

Dungeons are somewhat more fun, although it takes time to getting used to wiping in a dungeon on normal in spite of full epic WotLK gear. Those epics are getting replaced by greens now, even if sometimes the benefit is somewhat doubtful. But to get to the third and fourth dungeon of Cataclysm requires you to have the new built-in WoW "gearscore", now expressed in the game as the average iLevel of your gear. The stat distribution is noticeably different than in WotLK, so my priest in new "level 79" green gear now has more health than my warrior still in his old "level 80" WotLK epics. I haven't been very lucky with finding blue gear in dungeons, I only got one or two pieces yet. Better luck next time.

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