I'm having quite a bit of fun with Cataclysm content, but one thing that I've found striking so far is that Blizzard is sending some very mixed signals in certain areas.
For example I found the revamped low-level areas to be very easy-going for the most part, with mobs much more spread out than they used to be and more neutral mobs interspersed among the hostile ones. Yet some of the new high-level zones are among the most deadly areas (without elites) that the developers ever designed, what with the enemies' massive health pools, tight grouping and high respawn rates.
Or take dungeon quests: On the one hand Blizzard advertised that they were going to put the quest givers directly inside the instances so people would be able to pick them up more easily, yet on the other hand they gave us Throne of the Tides, where the quest NPC inside won't even speak to you unless you've completed all of Vashj'ir. Having to pick up quests for Sunken Temple in four different zones was a piece of cake compared to what essentially comes down to having to do nearly one-hundred and fifty pre-quests just to do two instance quests in a levelling instance.
On the one hand they introduced a guild levelling system and guild achievements to make you play with your friends, but on the other hand they got rid of group quests almost entirely, made levelling in sync a royal pain in the arse and generally made questing more annoying if you've got company.
And of course, they left the dungeon finder in the game with no changes. In my guild this has led to some strange conflicts. Everyone agrees that running with a guild group is generally far superior to running with a pug, but guild groups (at least in a medium-sized guild) have a problem: unless you plan ahead for every five-man as if it were a raid, they are pretty unreliable. The tank you were hoping for might have a headache and end up not wanting to run tonight, maybe there are three healers online and they can't all get into a group, or maybe everyone just started a run five minutes before you logged on.
Comparatively, the dungeon finder has one advantage there: the guaranteed spot. If you queue up there, you might have to wait forty minutes, but unless it's three in the morning (and maybe even then) you will get into a group eventually. It might be a horrible group and you might not make it past the first boss, but at the very least you'll get a chance to go.
So you try to build a guild group in the evening and get responses like "I would have come but I just got into a pug after a fifty-minute queue" or "oh sorry, we're already in a run together and just pugged the healer from the dungeon finder". And so everyone ends up pugging something or someone, and then the ones who log on later end up having to pug more in turn... and suddenly you have ten guildies doing heroics but not a single group that counts as a guild run.
I don't want to condemn the dungeon finder here, but I have to say that in light of the changes to guilds and the like, it feels oddly out of place to me now and as if the different systems are sabotaging each other. Run with your guild, it's more fun and gives achievements! No, use the dungeon finder, it guarantees you a spot at the press of a button!
Cataclysm, the expansion of contradictions?
The Age of the Full Zone Respawn
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