Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facing the end of Cataclysm?

Things start to catch speed. In two days we've had some news that will impact the game heavily.
Yesterday was turning threat into a non-issue for tanks. Hit hard from the begining and don't fear to lose aggro as the fight goes on. On one hand it's a good idea: dps usually outgear tanks quickly, or if not, the dps ramps up faster than threat. That makes a lesser geared tank struggle to keep mobs on him and end loathing the tanking role (as it happened with my warrior duign WotLK). While this means tanking will be easier (and hope more people decides to queue as tanks) we still have to see what Blizzard intends to do. They want tanks to be more active without having to worry about losing aggro, or "more fun" as they say. Right now as tank you have to take care of: aggro, moving mobs, interrupts (or at least be in the interrupt rotation), catching adds or perform special actions (like intercepting some beam, activate any machinery, etc). Even decursing yourself is in your to-do list. Taking aggro management out of the list already leaves tanks with several thigs to perform or take care of. Adding more things may end backfiring and make tanks life more miserable.
The second thing has been announced not long ago: next expansion will bring the Deathwing raid. The aquatic raid of the Abyssal Maw has been discarded because they say wasn't convincing enough and story wasn't fitting. There are two big implications here: first is this will leave a big unfinished story: after all the struggle in Vashj'ir and the Throne of the Tides we won't know how things will end for Neptulon and Ozumat. Again Blizz will be the king of unfinished plots. The second and most important is this can mark the end of the Cataclysm expansion. By october/november this patch will be most likely out in the streets, so the Cataclysm expansion will be done in just one year instead of the typical two years lifespan. Of course some extra patches can be released after (like Ruby Sanctuary on WotLK) but the expansion plot will be finished. Now there are two ways: either we'll be one year grinding old content/extra patches with no determining content or Cataclysm will be the shortest lived expnsion with just one year + the time it takes to get next expansion finished. There's a third way also, let me get my tin foil hat: Cataclysm is finishes after a year and then we get the expansion 4B: Mists of Pandaria. After the storm that created the announcement of the trademarking of the name within the videogame category and all the speculation wether this would be the next expansion or just a stand-alone videogame, today's announcement of the Deathwing raid could mean we get done with Cataclysm and then we move to Pandaria until the next "official" expansion (I think next one was the Emerald Dream one) is relased next year. This would also address the only 5 new levels that Cata brought, so we can set foot on the Emerald Dream (or whatever is next) as level 90.
Anyway, ditching out the Abyssal Maw so fast and with that vague explanation and announcing the final showdown with Deathwing is worrying. Another sign of the end was hinted by Shintar some days ago when she wrote about how disappointing were the Molten Front story-wise. I felt the same, after that long and boring grind you expect some epic ending and you just get a letter with a mount. Maybe they ditched the grand finale due to the same reasons they did with Abyssal Maw: Cataclysm is facing its end and they have no time to add other content.
WoW is showing his age and Blizzard acknowledged also that they've lost almost one million subscribers in the last 6 months. Adding more content is not enough anymore to retain people, specially when you've been playing since first days. No matter how many dungeons, raids or dailies you add. It's all the same. Bigger weapons, shinier armours, different colour cloaks, but it's the same. If WoW really wants to keep being MMO #1 needs to add something entirely new.