I cancelled my sub to RIFT yesterday evening. It was not because I did not enjoy it. It was fun — a polished, pleasant fantasy MMO that played well. It just did not excite me all that much, which is the danger of following too closely in the footsteps of a market leader like World of Warcraft. Everything is just a little too familiar. I ended up feeling that if I am going to play a perfectly polished clone of WoW, I might as well play WoW where at least I have guild, friends and family.
I stopped playing WoW because I was burned out by the grind and everything was just a little bit too easy and familiar. I went back last night to level from scratch on a new PvP server with my son Dan. No heirloom gear, no Sugar Daddy level 85 toons to send gold to the new ones, just the plain old levelling grind with a totally new character. You know it was kind of fun.
One thing you realise coming back to WoW from a more realistic looking fantasy world like Rift is just how plain weird Azeroth is. Familiarity tends to dull that but after the long layoff, stepping into the primary coloured landscapes of Durotar and seeing all those cartoon trolls is a bit like being on hallucinogenics. I even felt a surge of nostalgia when I heard the cod native American music that accompanies those rust-red landscapes. I realised I like Azeroth, I like the humour, I like the attention to detail, I like the depth and strangeness of the world. And I must confess when I hit Ogrimmar for the first time, it really felt like hitting the big city. All those dragons, all those exotic flyers, all those powerful people.
Levelling to 10 was pretty smooth with my troll druid. Some of the starting areas had a few too many people competing for the quest goals so it went slower than it could. I enjoyed it though. At level 10 Dan and I grouped up for some PvP, inevitably Warsong Gulch came up. This is where a lot of the changes introduced over the past few years show their downside. It’s not much fun being a new player with fresh gear in a battleground full of folk encased in heirlooms. I was one shotted more times than I can count. I saw a level 12 mage with 997 health. At one point I grouped up with a couple of rogues to hit the enemy flag carrier. We got him down from 600 to 150 health– he was level 10! Then out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of the arcane blast coming in. One hit, 117 points of overkill I am back in the graveyard. The Alliance have now established local superiority in our graveyard and basically camp us. We are so outgeared there is nothing we can really do about it. This was pretty much the story of every WSG for the rest of the evening. I can’t say it was a very attractive introduction to PvP at this level and I am used to being a punching bag. I can only imagine what this would have been like had I been a new player, fresh to the game. Hopefully it will get better as I gear up but the gear story is always going to be a problem in WoW.
It’s questing and and the dungeon finder for the next twenty levels or so. I am glad to be back in Azeroth anyway. One of the things my sojourn in Telara taught me is that there is no getting back that surge of excitement of being a complete noob in an MMO. That being the case, I am as happy getting my MMO fix from WoW as anywhere else.