yup.. not proud of it.. but I've gone back to playing world of warcraft. I kept hearing all about all the changes that were being made to the game preparing for the launch of Cataclysm and I just had to check it out. The rumors of changes vastly shortchange the scope of the change. For all intents and purposes, this new game is WOW 2.
Even though I was never a very serious WOW player, I can already state unequivocally that it is a vastly different game, even while the mechanics are generally unchanged.
The general storyline has been advanced by about 5 years, which in my opinion vastly improves the general game. As some one who is generally concerned with the "big picture" rather than the small details, it always bugged me how despite all the enormous changes which were supposedly undertaken, the game never really altered because of them. Partly this was simply logistical, it costs money to change the game, and partly because the game designers didn't want to make new players feel as if there was no reason for them to stick around. This time however its not the case, the implementation of phasing has been brought into great effect on several zones, this is something I felt that Lord of the Rings online did very well. Now if Blizzard will implement the ability to move backwards through the phased zones in order for you to be able to help your lower level friends, they will have caught up to Turbine.
I decided that rather than using my old character, I'd simply start a new one, on a new server. I'm glad I did as its a vastly different experience this time. Dare I say it, being a low level character dosen't suck any more. The developers have redesigned nearly every zone in some way or another, they have re aligned quests so that they radiate around central hubs, making it much easier to do more than one quest at a time and cuts down on the backtracking which used to plague the game. Especially in the 30's to 40's which required tremendous amounts of travel and must have been some what similar to the "Doldrums" in the days of sailing ships.
They've clearly taken note of some of the most gregarious examples of these problems and fixed the majority of them. Some of the most obnoxious zones however, such as the dreaded Stranglethorn vale, still require a rather obscene amount of out-and-backing, but nothing to the extent to which it used to do. As a bonus they have also added a "Calling all heroes" bulletin to the capital cities, so that if you are at a loss as to where to go next, the board will provide you with a quest to seek out some one at the first quest hub in which ever zones you are currently at level to play in, this is a very nice touch.
I'm not sure yet how excited I am for Cataclysm itself to launch, the idea of having all those flying mounts circling me while I'm on a low level character is unnerving. And I'm still not entirely sure why, now that the events of the Burning crusade and war against Arthas are over, that we still have to go through the expansions in order to get to level 80. I could be mistaken, as I've not gotten far enough yet to find out, but I doubt seriously if there will be any attempt to explain these excursions via the story.
I doubt I will play for any considerable amount of time, but it is definitely enlightening to play it now, especially after having played several months of Lord of the Rings online, and previously over the year other MMO's such as Everquest 2 and Guild wars. It's nice to see what aspects of all these games are becoming standard for all MMO's.