Monday, November 01, 2010

5 Reasons Why Casuals Should Return To World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

World of Warcraft is a mess. Blizzard themselves admitted that 70% of players never even get past level 10. How many people quit the game upon reaching level 40 quit because they didn't have 100g for the mount riding skill? And how about raiding? How can sane people get anything done at maximum level without spending 6 straight hours in some raid dungeon hoping that a piece of loot drops from a boss that you don't have to fight 4 other people in the same class for? It's easy to get burned out from World of Warcraft because it can seem to require a huge commitment of time an energy to make any progress within the game.

It's not so bad anymore. Blizzard have listened to the player feedback and have improved everything for the better, and the game is now much more casual player friendly. With the coming release of Cataclysm in December 7th 2010, there has never been a better time for the casual player to be drawn back into the game, and here are the 5 reasons why:

1) Instant Dungeons and Battlegrounds

In the past, finding a group for an instance or queueing for a battleground could take hours of waiting around for a trusted tank or healer to log in. However with the introduction of the 'Random Dungeon' and the 'Random Battleground', it means with just a single click, automatic matchmaking within a battlegroup cluster (a collection of 6-10 servers) is virtually instantaneous. Also, expect queues for matchmaking to get shorter as plans for a merger of all battlegroups within a region is taking place. This would mean that a queue will draw from an entire region of players (either EU or US) rather than individual servers, making queues even shorter.

What does this mean for casuals? It means being able to play instantaneously and get straight into content, and to do the most rewarding content in short bursts lasting at most, 30 minutes at a time.

2) New Raid Lockout System

Separate raid lockouts for 10-man and 25-man versions of raids meant that hardcore raiders within a single weekly lockout would finish the 25-man raid, and then split into two smaller teams and complete 10-man content. Obviously this was completely optional, but hardcore raiders took it upon themselves to do both versions within the week to get as much loot and as many badges as possible. This meant every week completing a huge raid twice, which is not fun and burnt a lot of hardcore raiders out.

In Cataclysm this will not longer be the case, as the 10-man and 25-man version will share the same lockout. Furthermore, 10-man and 25-man raids will share the same loot table and have the same rewards (although the 25-man raids will have bosses that drop slightly more loot proportionally). Therefore, it's still possible to keep to at a 'competitive' edge as a casual 10-man raiding guild, without feeling left behind by the 25-man raiders who in the past, could have had choice of 25-man and 10-man loot.

Don't have the time to do 10-man raiding either? Then with the new Justice/Valor point system, 5-man heroic dungeon will drop the same loot badges as all raids. In other words, World of Warcraft endgame rewards the casual playstyle by providing the same tier rewards to those who have 5 hours a day to play and those who only have 30 minutes a day to complete a Random Dungeon.

3) Less AddOn Maintenance

Keeping an excellent user interface (UI) augmented by third-party AddOns and mods used to be a requirement for playing the game 'properly'. However, anyone who has played World of Warcraft knows that maintaining AddOns is difficult because Blizzard patches will invariably break the functionality complex AddOns.

Over the years however, Blizzard has slowly been baking in excellent UI additions to the game, making the maintenance of third-party AddOns completely optional. Over 2010, we've had major UI overhauls such as:
  • Map markers locating quest objectives in the map (never need to alt-tab to Wowhead/Thottbot to check where you are supposed to be for a quest). Also, the quest interface now contains a button to whatever doodad you need to 'use' for a particular quest.
  • A mod notifying when to use certain spells and abilities, for example, when an enemy falls below 20% health, your button for Hammer of Wrath will flash up (this is a zero configuration version of Power Auras Classic).
Blizzard has introduced new UI features to remind you to cast certain spells (like this Death Coil reminder). Lucky Charms health bars sold separately!
  • New raid unit frames, which provide raid information much more clearly. 
  • New maps for dungeons and raids, showing loot tables and a basic list of abilities. This means not having to alt-tab to Wowhead just to get through a boss. Blizzard gives you all the basic information about encounters within the game itself.

  • A new launcher allows you to login to World of Warcraft whilst you are downloading the patch. Once a minimum patch size is downloaded, the rest can be loaded in the background whilst you play.
Even the hugest patches are much more manageable since they can be played halfway through downloading them.
The new interface options means it's easier to run World of Warcraft without any AddOns at all and not be at a disadvantage. However, if you still want to use AddOns, Curse (the de-facto AddOn repository) has a fantastic client which automatically detects and updates AddOns for you automatically. Also check here for a guide: Auto Sync And Backup World of Warcraft Interface Settings To Cloud Storage For Free.

4) Noob Friendly Talents

Talent trees have been vastly simplified. Instead of 71 points at level 80 to spend, there will only be 41. Upon reaching level 10, choosing a talent tree now results in the 'signature abilities' of that class. For instance, a combat specced rogue no longer has to wait until level 60 to gain Blade Flurry, this is now given at level 10. Mandatory and cookie cutter specs are minimalised and there are much fewer talent points to spend. This makes it impossible to 'gimp' a character since the most important abilities of a spec are given up front.

Specialization defining abilities are now given at level 10.

5) Brand New Leveling Game

Essentially, World of Warcraft is being relaunched with completely redesigned level 1-60 content to make it simpler for casual players with limited play-time. In the old world, the quest design was hectic and objectives often had a lot of 'dead' time wandering around aimlessly, not knowing where to go. Now content is much more directed and focused. The user interface puts quest markers directly on your map. It's easier to get places because mounts are available much cheaper and at level 20. Dual specialization can be bought for 100g. New technologies like phasing have been implemented to allow players to experience the effect that they have on the world. Great quality cinematics have been developed for important in-game quests. What is arguably the best part of World of Warcraft, the leveling experience, has been substantially improved for the brand new and returning player.


There has never been a better time to get back into World of Warcraft, whether you are a lapsed subscriber burned out from the game, or a completely new player looking for the best MMO there is out there right now.