The “Zombie” Portion of the pre-Wrath Event Is Flawed

I’ve been spewing profanities the past couple days. The source of my foul-mouthed escapades: the zombie portion of the pre-Wrath event. Or, rather, the extent to which people can use it to grief players and the lack of safeguards against it.

To give the situation some context, I should explain how the event works:

  1. People become infected with the plague. This is done when a player kills an infected roach, opens some infected crates, or is the subject of infection by either player or NPC zombies.
  2. The infection is applied as a disease. When the disease runs its course, or when a player dies or tries to remove the disease with an immunity effect like divine shield, the player turns into a zombie.
  3. As a zombie, a player retains his or her level and can attack other players of either faction, flagged or not.
  4. NPC’s can be infected and become zombies, as well.
  5. There are “argent healers” that can cleanse people of the infection and attack these zombies. High level players with any sort of disease cleansing capabilities can also remove it, though it has a high resistance rate.
  6. Guards can attack zombies.

This seems an okay situation on the surface. Argent healers were meant to serve as the NPC-driven defense against this menial version of the plague. However, looking deeper into the matter, it is important to note the various conditions that morph the event into one of the most poorly designed experiences WoW has ever offered. These conditions are as follows:

  1. The argent healers are only stationed in major cities at important hubs: banks, auction houses, flight points, and entrances to various areas. They are not stationed in most towns outside of the capital cities.
  2. Guards in most lowbie towns are too low in level to even put a dent in the high level player zombies. At best, they can daze the zombie and prevent them from reaching a lowbie that has managed to mount up and run away.
  3. Lowbie players cannot themselves put a dent in the player zombies that are much higher in level than them, due to the level difference.

Compound these conditions with the risk of putting so much power into the players’ hands and you have an absolutely, positively frustrating experience for many. If not for the fact that I could swap over to my level 70 retadin, turn on sense undead, and completely own the shit out of anyone with poor intentions, I’d be more annoyed than I already am. Especially because I rolled on a PvE server to avoid the type of asshattery I’ve been seeing.

I’ll put this into perspective. The other day I was trying to level up a couple alts in Bloodmyst. This is when two people from my own guild decided to kill me and decimate Blood Watch and all the lowbies there. Having none of it, I lectured them about when to say when, switched to my paladin, owned them, camped them, cleansed them when they tried to continue spreading the plague, and kicked one of them from the guild (who wasn’t a good member of the guild in the first place). As funny as it is to grief people, it takes a ball-less git to repeatedly grief lowbie players of their own faction. And a jerk to do it to people in their own guild, especially when those people are clearly upset or annoyed. Having leveled on a PvP server before, I did what was only natural.

Here’s another interesting case study. Some high level druid decided it’d be funny to grief all the lowbies in Darkshire. I just happened to stop by on my low level alts and notice, so I swapped over to my paladin to take care of the problem. The result is alarming.

y u kill me fagg

Do we really want to give so much power to people like this? Especially on a PvE ruleset? I sure hope not. Notice how he tries to berate me for killing him by justifying that the event is for killing people. “y u kill me fagg” definitely reeks of maturity and social validity. I’m only doing what a lot of people would do on a PvP server when someone griefs and camps lowbies. There are repercussions for being a dick!

But don’t get me wrong. I’m all for having fun with people near the cap, considering they can immediately defend themselves. But thinking about the lowbies who have yet to build up connections on a server, I can’t help but wonder how frustrating this event must be for them. How many of them have quit over this fiasco? I’m willing to bet a rather sizable amount. The fact that safeguards weren’t put in place for low level areas is greatly disappointing.

What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be any purpose to becoming a zombie other than to kill and infect other players and NPC’s. If there was actually a quest to perform as a zombie, and if lowbies could actually defend themselves, I’d be a whole lot more forgiving and inclined to view the event in a positive light. I definitely think it has its place as a fundamental concept. But the specifics are broken.

10/27 Update: It’s Over

For those of you who are unaware, the zombie portion of the event ended at noon today. It was fun and frustrating while it lasted. I’m appreciative that Blizzard is trying to create more dynamic and robust world events that aren’t concentrated in one zone. However, I’m also glad it didn’t last until the launch of Wrath.

10/29 Update: Response to Some Comments

I don’t want to spam people’s feed readers, so I am simply adding this to my entry as an addendum. And since there are 100 comments, a lot of people don’t actually see the points of the event that have merit, so I am adding my general response here.

A lot of people in their comments have made the assumption that I was 100% against the zombie event. This is not the case. Might I highlight an important quote from the entry.

I definitely think [the zombie event] has its place as a fundamental concept. But the specifics are broken.

As a positive point, the event tied very well into the lore. It gave our characters and the factions ample reason and motivation to retaliate against Arthas directly. It proved to be “disruptive” to daily life, just as the first undead plague was. And it turned us against each other. That was probably Arthas’ intention. Or was it Putress’ intention? Who knows. In either case, I understand what the event was supposed to do. That’s exactly the “fundamental concept” I’m talking about.

World occurrences like the zombie event do have their place in WoW and should be done again. However, I still think it had its flaws, and these issues can be fixed without deadening the event’s intentions to the point where its purposes are rendered ineffectual.

Just because the event did its job doesn’t make it perfect. Just because some people enjoyed it, doesn’t make it perfect. Just because these two facts exist, doesn’t mean I should not address any issues I might have had with the event, in hopes of improving similar events for the future.

There is no doubt this event had great potential that it met to some degree. But it’s one thing to be disruptive, and another to completely obliterate people’s abilities to perform certain tasks for hours upon hours upon hours. It is, in my opinion, disruptive and engrossing enough that people can attack others while performing the tasks they deem “routine.” You can make various NPC’s immune, without obliterating the event’s intentions. That’s exactly why Blizzard made the flight master in Shatt immune. And it’s still disruptive and engrossing for lowbies that they can merely be attacked, even if they have the ability to defend themselves.

There is no reason events like these can’t happen in the future. There is no reason such dynamic occurrences can’t happen. For all its specific flaws, the fundamental concepts were sound. Blizzard just needs to take a little more care in designing events like this in the future. That’s all.

No QQ about it.