Cataclysm in Review: A Conclusion

Here we are, over 20,000 words later. And I am now almost at a loss for them. I’ve written so much about Cataclysm and the state of the game this past month, it’s as though I’ve exhausted my ability to critique. And, yet, there are so many subtleties and details I have failed to discuss. Which is as it should be, because WoW is an absolute behemoth of a game, and to leave no stone unturned requires ongoing commentary. This is why WoW blogs exist. And why some blogs focus on a few specific areas. Without such an approach, you can only speak in generalities. But I have done my best to round out the strengths and weaknesses of this expansion, even if I haven’t really played since late May, or early June.

Considering the competition, there are so many things WoW does right. Increased accessibility ensures players can get involved in the most basic parts of the end-game without too much frustration, and without making the game easier (and before you say it is, I will ask you to take off your nostalgia goggles). Whenever I play another game and I’m forced to troll a general or trade channel to find a group, I realize, “Gee! This is something WoW does right!” And with this and other similar comparisons put into consideration, WoW remains one of the best MMOs, if not the best MMO, on the market today.

But that really isn’t saying much, because MMOs are not where they should be. And Catclysm hasn’t done much to fix the systemic problems WoW endures—the UI clutter, the lack of production value, how classes affect play, etc. I’ve already exhausted most of these topics, so I won’t go into more long-winded commentary about them. I will only tire of it, as much as my audience will tire reading about it.

Instead, I will offer a brief conclusion of sorts. And, frankly, I think Cataclysm is the worst expansion to date. The improvements were minimal. RBGs were incredibly rushed, and its ratings system buggy. It was released with fewer raids than I would have liked. The new in-game cut-scene engine wasn’t used as often as it should have been. You still have to read boring quest text boxes. And the fundamentals of the game haven’t changed enough to help the game break free from stagnation. These outweigh any bright spots of this expansion—the dungeon finder, the art design, the music, the fact that RBGs are now actually in the game, the needed changes for older content, etc.

If Cataclysm is an indicator of what future expansions will bring to the table, I think Blizzard should seriously consider starting work on WoW II. But, unfortunately, that prospect is unlikely, because Blizzard has already begun work on its next generation MMO—Titan. So I can only hope Blizzard will consider making some much-needed fundamental changes to WoW in the next expansion or two.

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