I had dabbled in Warcraft here and there in the past. I'm not a super huge fan of Real Time Strategy games, but Warcraft was fun and had a good storyline.
I had dabbled in MMOs in the past and found them to be fun, despite being costly.
When WoW hit the shelves, I knew I had to get it.
What makes WoW entertaining for me? The fact that it's not your run of the mill MMO. The characters we can create are still confined to the Warcraft world: Horde had shaman units, Alliance had paladin units. Along with this, all the races had their own unique racials. Encounters were designed around this uniqueness. What Alliance groups could do, Horde groups had to find a different way and vice versa - because we weren't all the same.
Also, it was still Warcraft at its core. In the beginning, player vs. player combat was definately a throwback to the old RTS. Large scale battles between the Alliance and Horde between Southshore and Tarren Mill to determine the future of Hillsbrad Foothills, for instance.
Slowly but surely, Blizzard Entertainment has destroyed the uniqueness of this game, and, along with it, the Warcraft brand.
Why, you ask?
First, they added "instanced" PvP - the now infamous battlegrounds system. Along with the battlegrounds system, they added a brand new honor ranking system which included "dishonorable kills" for killing certain PvP flagged non player characters in enemy towns. This effectively turned PvP into yet another grind, grinding for both honor and faction, and killed World PvP because one dishonorable kill would nearly, sometimes completely, ruin your entire honor gains for the week. In another blow to world PvP, blizzard added guards to neutral towns such as the goblin towns of Gadgetzan and Everlook, and the new Argent Dawn base of Light's Hope Chapel in the Eastern Plaguelands. Any PvPing in the vicinity of the guards will have both PvPers slaughtered by the guards and taking item durability damage.
In a desperate, pre-expansion, attempt to revitalize world PvP, Blizzard gave us two very half-assed objective based PvP venues in the zones of Silithus (where each side must collect sand and take it back to their base) and Eastern Plaguelands (where each side tries to control 4 dilapidated towers). The rewards for these objectives are pathetic, at best, and no one even bothers participating in them anymore.
They are including a lot more objectived based world PvP in the expansion, including the ability to capture and hold neutral towns. However, at the same time, they're completely doing away with the honor system in its current implementation, letting everyone keep their highest rank, getting rid of the rank structure, and removing everyone's honor to zero. Battlegrounds will still be around, but now all purchases for PvP equipment must be done with honor points earned after the expansion hits and the "meat-and-potatoes" of PvP for high level characters will be "Arena" matches in which you will fight both the opposing faction as well as your own... what? Why would I be fighting fellow Horde in Azeroth when our enemy is the Alliance and the rest of the races hell-bent on destroying our world and way of living?
Second, with the expansion, the uniqueness of the factions - Horde and Alliance - are being thrown right out the window.
Blood Elves, the new Horde race, will be able to be Paladin units.
Draenai, the new Alliance race, will be able to be Shaman units.
And rumors are circulating that Blood Elf priests will get a form of the Fear Ward racial trait, previously limited to Dwarves only.
After the expansion comes out, it won't matter if you pick Horde or Alliance - other than cosmetics, they'll be identical. Both factions, supposedly at war with each other, will have identical classes and the uniqueness of being the only faction to have Shaman or Paladins will be gone. And for what reason? According to a Blizzard Community Manager on their forums it is because they want to be able to program future encounters once, involving all the classes. Translation: They're fat, lazy and don't feel like dealing with the uniqueness that made Warcraft different.
Third, the economy will be in ruins for anyone not going into the new content. It has been confirmed by several Blizzard Community Managers that gold will be much easier to obtain between levels 60 and 70. This means for anyone who is not level 60 yet, inflation on existing sellable equipment will increase ten-fold or more, practically overnight. If gold is that much easier to obtain for high level characters, the people playing the bulk of the game - the One-to-Sixty grind - will find themselves at a severe disadvantage to the point where purchasing items from the Auction House may actually become completely impossible.
Fourth, in a slap to the face of almost all the healer classes, Blizzard has decided to programmatically "break" any addons or macros which logically target a player or logically cast a spell. This means a large majority of addons and macros which most healer classes use will no longer be able to be used. Healers are already the most stressed, and least appreciated, classes in the game and now they're hit with a huge nerf. Meanwhile, Blizzard has remained suspeciously silent when people have asked if they plan on rescinding earlier nerfs to spells which they incorporated over the course of the last year to discourage use of these automated addons. This leads most of us to believe that they are not planning on rolling back those nerfs, essentially double-nerfing healer classes with this change.
Fifth, and finally, their "talent" updates leave a lot to be desired. Warlocks and Hunters got almost nothing but complete buffs to new talents and spells - both of those classes are already considered godly by most people who play the game (even fellow hunters admit they're a bit too powerful) - meanwhile, priests, druids, mages and rogues all got lackluster reviews and situational, crappy spells. Combine point four with point five and you have a recipe for a mass exodus of healers to DPS classes (mostly Warlocks and Hunters), leaving a game that is already short on healers (remember, it's a high stress, thankless job that most people do not have fun doing) even shorter.
There's a lot of whining about raiders gear becoming outdated rapidly after the expansion hits. Personally, as I am a raider, I don't agree with the people who are whining and actually look forward to being able to progress, even if that means taking my "Epic" gear off for "Rare" gear that has better stats. On the topic of itemization, I'm perfectly fine with how Blizzard is implementing things and actually look forward to it.
All in all, the "new" direction of WoW leaves me wondering if I even want to bother with the expansion. In a series of announcements, Blizzard has transformed World of Warcraft into just another MMO, eradicating its uniqueness due to laziness. If I wanted to play an MMO where everyone had the same choices from the start and the economy was boned, I would have stuck with Everquest 2.
World of Warcraft.. what drew me to it two years ago?