|Release: September 25, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
Working my way through the Wandering Isle, I was struck by how few concessions Blizzard has made to modern trends in the MMO genre. Sure, they've made it more convenient to complete quests—the quest-givers warp around to follow you, and sometimes you can even collect your rewards remotely. But there has been no attempt to borrow many other recent innovations, such as the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2, or GW2's system for rewarding players who help each other out, or TERA's action-oriented combat.
As a result, questing in World of Warcraft can start to feel like a real pain. You trudge your way to a quest giver, read the text (or don't bother), trudge your way to the indicator on the map, kill or collect whatever you need to, get your reward, and trudge onward. What's great about many new MMOs is that even when you're playing solo, they always feel like massively multiplayer online experiences, rather than like a bland single-player game where other people happen to be roaming around too. There are some interesting story quests on Wandering Isle that I won't spoil, but for the most part, you're going around and killing X number of Y creature or collecting A number of B items. This is all faithful to the WoW experience, but it doesn't offer exciting new features for a player who's not already invested in the franchise.
However, I shouldn't be too hard on a game that has lasted for close to a decade, still has an incredibly devoted fan base, and keeps expanding and improving to keep old players hanging around. Blizzard won't be retiring World of Warcraft anytime soon, of course, but the company does seem to realize the game might not be on top for much longer—they're already hard at work on a next-gen MMO. Until then, Mists of Pandaria will give WoW fans plenty to do, even if newer players will be tempted to join a different game.
Date: September 27, 2012