Sunday, December 12, 2010

The dimensions of Cataclysm

In August 2007 I talked about the dimensions of a MMORPG, defining length, depth, and breadth. And I complained about Wrath of the Lich King offering mainly added length, and completely neglecting breadth, which would be needed for better replayability. In hindsight that looks like a design document for Cataclysm: The Shattering and Cataclysm together add enormous breadth to World of Warcraft, with over 4,000 new quests, two new races, four new starting zones, and so many remodelled zones. But as resources are never infinite, a consequence of this breadth is that Cataclysm might be the shortest expansion ever.

Cataclysm is not yet a week old, and without even trying to level fast I'm already in the middle of level 83, just by finishing Vashj'ir and running a few dungeons. Many in my guild are already at the new level cap. People who don't want to play alts, but only want to play their main character, will see that Cataclysm added less new zones and new dungeons than Wrath of the Lich King did. Of course with dungeons now being much harder it is well possible that raid progress will be slower in Cataclysm. But somehow one week to the level cap followed by two years of slow raid progress doesn't look very balanced to me.

I still think that this was a good idea. The renovation of old Azeroth makes World of Warcraft more likely to continue attracting new player, while at the same time giving old players a lot of content to play through with alts. But it makes me wonder who exactly Blizzard considers to be their core audience. I guess we'll have to wait and see how raiding develops in Cataclysm to find out.

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