These days I find myself playing more LOTRO than WoW, and although switching my primary MMO is something that happens to me on an regular basis, this time I feel things will be different. The reason? Cataclysm is a huge disappointment.
That qualifier is there for a reason, because I can clearly see the innumerable ways in which Cataclysm is an unmitigated success — financially, design-wise, artistically, story-wise, the list goes on. But for me, Cataclysm probably represents the decline of my time in Azeroth, as there is nothing left for me to do. This is incredibly alarming since I’m the epitome of the casual MMO player. There are weeks that I get an hour or less of playtime, and there are weeks where I can get a 2 hour session in every 2-3 days. With that in mind, I beat the game a couple months ago, having finished all the new questing areas and run into the new end-game brick wall.
Back in Wrath, there were eight new zones with ten new player levels to advance. In addition, there was a new class one could play that, if it was your thing, you could use to tackle old content with new game mechanics, making them feel fresh, despite the fact that you’d most likely done them before. With Cataclysm, the new zone count was cut by one-third and the level count was cut in half. This meant hitting the end-game happens a lot faster for players like me, who want to savor the long, slow burn to the level cap.
On the surface though there’s nothing wrong with this, per se. The problem only rears its head when you look closer at the changes to the end-game in how dungeons operate and the commitment they require. I mentioned above that my play sessions rarely exceed two hours in length, which was plenty of time to queue for a random in WotLK, run the 5 man, and sign off happy. Back then I was DPS, and the time from logon to logoff was usually less than 60 minutes, including the queue time. Nowadays that commitment is stretched to three hours for DPS at a minimum, something I cannot commit to.
Which is why I switched mains. Now I’m tanking with a Prot Pally and my queue is non-existent. Problem is, I still can’t play WoW. My first Cataclysm 5 man took 2 hours and 45 minutes to PUG. My second took 3 hours and 15 minutes. My first three heroics were failures, and each of those took over 3 hours to resolve. The game has changed in ways that exclude players like me. I never ran RAIDs because I couldn’t dedicate the time. Now I can’t run 5 mans either, leaving me with a list of rep-grinds as my only recourse. Since I’m not an altoholic, I’m not likely get a Worgen or Goblin past level 10, despite my love of old-world Azeroth.
So now I play LOTRO almost exclusively. WoW is still a better game, probably the best overall MMO on the market to this day, but it demands dedication I cannot give it anymore, although after the other four players have outgeared the heroics, I might try again.