Spoilers: this post is full of frustration. You have been warned. Seriously, I get frustrated again just looking at it.
Disclaimer: I'm not comparing WoW as a whole to single player games! Just comparing similar elements used in a different way elsewhere!
Teaser: Last weekend a friend sent me a scroll of resurrection because he wanted that stupid pet for his character as a reward.
I hadn't played WoW since Wrath of the Lich King launched which I didn't buy. Back then I just bought Burning Crusade for cheap since that was old and I wanted access to the new characters (hadn't played for over a year at that point as well). I played my first character on vanilla WoW till level 59 - it just got so boring I didn't even care to at least reach the original level cap.
I made it to level 42 with my Blood Elf while the others were having fun with the brand new Death Knight and stuff. I got bored again, basically I had seen all the stuff beyond the new starting area in my previous playthrough and finding people to go into dungeons with was still somewhat of a pain (the over abundance of damage dealers did its part, sure).
When Cataclysm launched, I wanted to use the free game time Blizzard threw at me to check out the world in its original state and then live through the transition and check out the changes just out of curiosity. I say wanted to because I never did, I just didn't care enough.
So, as I said, last weekend I got the rez scroll and had free game time again. I checked out the cool new installer and was up to go back to the new and improved Azeroth (since the scroll came with a free character transfer to the realm my friend is on and a bump to level 80 including flying mounts and blahblahblah). Once I forced those 10gig down my pipe, I clicked play and went back to my Blood Elf who suddenly hung out in Orgrimmar for some reason (don't remember leaving her there but whatevs). With the level bump came preset new equipment and my talent tree got reset but automatically respecced according to the specialty I chose during the resurrection process. That was weird. So off to questing.
Upon finding my quest log empty, I decided to check out all those yellow !s with my new flying mount. At least they're helping you with way points on the map now since the world is so fucking huge and you are so damn slow. I must've started the Cataclysm main quest line because I was told to check out some vision in a pool which I had to google because I couldn't find a pool. Turns out the thing was tiny and right next to me. Not fun.
Then, I thought I'd fly around to check out the transformed areas finally. On my flying mount! Must be awesome! ... No it wasn't. That thing apparently has 280% flight speed - so why does it still feel like I'm swimming in a pool of honey! My god, traversing the world was sooo frustrating, especially since I just came off of playing Xenoblade which has instant fast travel to all major and even minor locations. No hassle whatsoever! This was just tedious and boring. I also got into my first fight, by the way. While flying over Ashenvale(?) I saw a giant fire elemental sitting on a volcano and decided to fry him. He died quickly but then I fell off the volcano and had to walk back to my body (didn't wanna start off with the item damage penalty) and was reminded how annoying that process was.
Screw that, I thought to myself and went to the next quest objective - riding the boat to the front lines or something. What's nice is that they actually scripted some sequence where the boat gets attacked and you end up underwater where you have to save some of the dudes and gather equipment before you can make your way to solid ground again. But then and there a huge problem revealed itself. The quests are FUCKING TERRIBLE! My god, I forced myself to give the game a chance to win me back. I was close to quitting after the FIRST quest. "Kill X crabs and collect Y shells". It's been YEARS and two major expansions since I last played and NOTHING changed! The slow movement speed and snoozefest-combat make these quests so unbearable.
What was the next quest? The area is not safe, "kill X Naga duders" and after "collect X number of the shit we lost". Seriously? I mean, sure, you basically do that kind of stuff in every RPG but the way they present this to you and the mechanics are so ancient and simply unfun it's almost painful. Again, I have to mention Xenoblade because I spent 30 hours with that over the last two weeks (70+ total so far) and it's fresh on my mind. From an objective point, the quests aren't that different. "Kill X number of that monster", "find Y of those thingys for me". The difference is a) your character has a dialog with the quest giver, not just a text block explaining what you need to do which you don't read anyway and b) YOU DON'T HAVE TO WALK BACK TO TURN THE QUEST IN!
I should make this bigger:
YOU DON'T HAVE TO WALK BACK TO TURN THE QUEST IN!
This was such a revelation in Xenoblade; World of Warcraft basically feels unplayable and broken without it. The worst thing about it is that you usually get sent right back to where you just collected the stuff for the previous quest to do more uninteresting shit. I'll call that Yo-Yo-Gameplay(TM). You can back and forth between the same two areas and have meaningless interaction with either an NPC or a group of enemies. I was glad I had a Blood Elf specialized in Demonology so I could summon some hell beast to defend me, saving me from pressing 1, 2, 5, 6, 1, 2, 5, 6, 6, 2 (see, I switched up the order to avoid falling asleep) longer than I needed to.
After I rode around on a seahorse in a scripted quick time event to tame it, I was apparently finally free to leave that horrible underwater area where I soon ran past every enemy because the combat was just that unappealing to me. I also died a lot because I stopped paying attention to the enemies at some point out of boredom. My demon wasn't strong enough to take care of business alone, it seems. Just walking around was a pain as well since I pulled aggro pretty much constantly from the nearby enemies no matter where I went (still in the underwater area where everyone is lvl 80-ish as well).
I gave up once I found the way to the overworld to open up flight paths to the main continent. It seems unbelievable that I managed to level my character to 59 back when they hadn't even introduced all the improvements to make things more convenient. Unfathomable. I think I spent two hours and all of it was just terrible.
In my opinion, WoW is (or at least has become) a terrible game that has aged extremely badly. Blizzard needs to step their game up tremendously with their Titan project because the basic gameplay in WoW just does not hold up. Or maybe it's just not for me and this exact barebones interaction that requires zero effort but simply lots of endurance is why this has such mass appeal. A facebook game without facebook and better graphics, is what it sounds like when I think about it.
Thankfully I didn't pay for it again.
Back to better games.