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Game Review: World of Warcraft – A Trip Through Some Cataclysm

Overview:  The Cataclysm expansion makes some good and bad impressions upon this World of Warcraft veteran.

World of Warcraft and I have a long history.  I began a two-and-a-half year adventure a couple of months after the game’s release, taking a small break post-Burning Crusade and finally quitting after about 4 months of playing Wrath of the Lich King.  On that day, I swore off playing “War-crack” but curiosity got the better of me.  Recently, I tried a ten-day free trial of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.  Having been there and back, I figured that I would share my findings with PoR readers.  I want to share what Blizz is doing right and wrong and ask if after six years WoW, is still worth your hard-earned cash?

First the good:  Nicely paced leveling should help new players find the learning curve easy to follow.  The new dungeon queue is also very efficient for low-level adventurers.  Experienced players will likely find the leveling easy but the new game mechanics should be robust enough to keep them interested.  There’s also the fact that new quests are modified from many of the old ones.  For example, a five man Gnomer isn’t suicide.  The parodies and pop culture references within the quests remain a consistent source of chuckles. Visually, I liked the way that Darkshore, Ashenvale and Stonetalon Mountains are re-done.  As making gold is so easy now, players should be able to make enough cash to do whatever they want in game.  Oh, and getting a mount at level twenty makes travel much easier.

Now the bad.  Worgen and Goblins?  Really?  With goblins being a neutral race in the game, it feels like Blizzard is tapped creatively.  Worgen with the Alliance?  Are the haters still complaining that the Alliance has all the pretty races?  I had no interest in trying out the new starting area for Goblins, but I figured it would be cool to try out the Werewolves…er..Worgen.  Sadly, I found their story to be bland and devoid of inspiration.  Werewolves make natural shape-shifters, but I just can’t swallow their tale of why they can take a druid class.  Even worse is the alchemy solution to creating “rational” Worgen.  For the next expansion we will be able to play as a satyr on the Alliance because a deus ex machina potion will cured them of their evils?

Although “the bad” really comes down to overly esoteric storytelling, the question remains if this WoW expansion is worth the money and monthly subscription.  For me, a $39.99 price-tag and a $14.99/month subscription fee is not worth the privilege of level grinding.  Having completed my 10-day free trial, I can’t imagine playing enough hours to justify the price, nor do I think the fun will be sustainable.  I think WoW should move to free monthly subscription or else it will likely isolate newcomers to the game.  At $39.99 for the core game bundled with the first expansion and $39.99 for each of the other two expansions, starting up in WoW now costs about $120.00 before taxes and subscription fees.  Not the best deal when all the free to play MMO’s are increasing in quality.

While World of Warcraft remains a great game, the value of paying is now questionable.  After 6 years, does Blizzard still deserve our money?  I don’t think so.  Feel free to leave your perspective in the comments below!

Overall Score: The game is an easy +4 but after all these years the subscription feels like a -2