It's been a while, so where's my nostalgia?

| Friday, August 3, 2012
Raise your hand if you're nostalgic for vanilla leveling.  Keep it up and if you're nostalgic for BC leveling, raise it (you don't have to raise both).  Same for LK level.  Okay, who doesn't have their hands up?  Duck down and hide if you started in Cataclysm.  In my imagination, in which I get to make this stuff up (I love punditry), everyone has their hands up.  Okay Cataclysm people, you can stand up now.  Everyone hands down.  Now, hands up for Cataclysm leveling nostalgia?




I started in vanilla, played pretty much non-stop through the start of Cataclysm.  Looking back, and playing through again, I had fun going through the content again.  I'd even look forward to it.  This wasn't a "I want to get out of the current content", but looking ahead to what was coming.  As Azeroth wrapped up and I ran BRD, I still looked forward to Hellfire Peninsula and Nagrand.  In Nagrand I looked forward to Grizzly Hills and Storm Peaks (I'm cherry-picking my favorites).  But now that my paladin is on the verge of Grizzly Hills, I am thinking ahead to Cataclysm and neither Mount Hyjal nor Vash'jir hold much appeal to me.  Twilight Highlands sounds nice, but that's not for a while, particularly given the 90% experience nerf for previous expansions, so no sticking around Icecrown a bit longer.

I don't know why Cataclysm has not created this sense of nostalgia or fondness for what is to come.  I could try to blame it on my lack of love for the Cataclysm end-game with its heavy emphasis on randoms and dailies.  But that was the case in LK too and I look forward to the LK zones.  Perhaps it is the limited selection, with Cataclysm adding only 5 zones while Northrend contains 8 (I'm not counting Crystalsong or Wintergrasp).  This means less repetition.  Outland has 7 zones, so perhaps it fits.  But LK and Cata both have a pair of starting zones while Outland has only 1, so there doesn't seem to be much of a link between choice of starting area and nostalgia.

Maybe it's the linear nature of the Cataclysm zones.  That makes it feel more like watching a movie a second time than playing a game a second time.  Different classes will play much differently, making the play different as well.  I'll go with that.


Chris said...

As one that started in BC, this resonates with my personal experience. I loved BC and Wrath. I was all fired up before Cata released, but as I got into it and started end game, the lure lessened. Like you, I've struggled to identify exactly why the game lost some of it's impact, but the fact remains that it has for me. Now that I'm leveling an alt, I just hit Hyjal. Instead of a fun tour, now it's become a grind. Levels 1 - 80 were nostalgic; Levels 81 to 85 are a grind. I'd love to isolate just why that is. Nice post!

Unknown said...

TBH I only really liked leveling in vanilla and tbc. WotLK, while not as linear as Cata, already looked like enjoying a ride in a theme park instead of exploration. The only difference being in the former you had more rides to choose from and the latter had better quality ones. But both equally suck when you're looking for a hike in the countryside.

Anonymous said...

As another relic from vanilla I think it has to do with zone structure as a whole. The current 1-60 that came in with Cata is actually not that bad to repeat. I preferred some of the original content, but that may be because I'm an Alliance player and 58 levels of kicked in the teeth gets old. The questing felt organic and from a character-story perspective it made sense, mostly. I'm still not sure why I was shipped-off to Redridge when Westfall was still actively overrun, but that's just another 'patch and ship' Alliance problem.

Cata is disjointed. I know that they are trying to tell a story but the zones are almost mini-expansions. You do the Hyjal story, then you do the Deepholm story, then... I never really felt that it held together. Only one of my 6 characters at 85 completed all the Cata zones, and that was only because I'm trying to get Lore Master on him.

You can argue that each zone in the previous content was also an independent story but it didn't feel like it. You were moving through a physical and political geography that was mostly unified. Things would change as you went but the breaks weren't as abrupt as in Cata; they were more local variations than radical alterations. I suppose that I'm saying that Cata had very poor continuity. I was never really sure how all this related together and why some of it was happening. Because of that I never managed to establish an emotional involvement with the expansion. It was just another set of, fairly bland, quests to overcome.

Klepsacovic said...

@Unknown: After first I thought "But I'm going to Grizzly Hills next and that is a lovely place for a hike!" Then I looked up the entrance quest and realized I was a level too low. On the other hand, I could still go there, still hunt bears and trolls.

@Anonymous: You may be on to something with the mini-expansions idea. While there is an overall villain of Deathwing, we tend to be fighting separate groups and stories don't lead much from zone to zone. Maybe Blizzard took their themed zones a bit too far this time.

Since it worked before, I'll try the Star Wars Extended Universe novels. The old zones were like a series: you could start with any one and it would more or less make sense and you'd get some amount of closure by the end of a book, though it would be obvious that the plot wasn't over. The 80+ Cataclysm are like standalone novels, all set in the same universe, with some common villains, but it doesn't matter which you read first because none add anything to the story in the others.

Azuriel said...

In fairness, isn't it a bit too soon for nostalgia anyway? I hated Hellfire, Shadowmoon Valley, and Blade's Edge (visuals aside) when TBC was current.

Then again... I still hate them. Conversely, Nagrand and Zangarmarsh was and are still some of my favorite zones. Hmm.

Regardless, Catalysm's vapid linearity is certainly not going to help those zones' appeal 2+ years from now. May need to BG my way out of them on any sub-Cata alts.

Klepsacovic said...

MMORPGs cause rapid aging. Where else can you hear "back in my day" after only a few months?

Blade's Edge was a weird zone. It seemed as if it demanded flying mounts with the two-level design, but was set for pre-70 before we had flying (originally). It was also somewhat random, as if they were looking for a place to throw in leftover enemies and quests and stuck them all there, in little patches.

Kring said...

I think the "bad part" of those expansions don't matter as long as there were truly amazing parts which we love to remember. All non-Cata expansions had at least one amazing zone which we loved. Doesn't have to be the same zone for everyone but there was something for everybody in it.

Cataclysm doesn't have a single zone which I really like and would love to play again. That's (one of) the problem with Cata. Not that the bad parts aren't worse then the parts I didn't like in TBC. But that there's nothing I like in it.

Transmogrification is awesome but we won't remember it as a "Cata feature" as much as we won't hate TBC for daily quests.

Anonymous said...

I think it has a lot to do with Cataclysm being a break from the past. Nostalgia is for the "old WoW", the old Azeroth. Cata is the new WoW, and you cannot (yet) get nostalgic for that. It is all about you.

I don't play WoW anymore, but that is the overwhelming impression I get from reading about WoW and hearing about it from friends.

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