I’ve been playing a lot of different video games lately, trying to get the feel for them. I have this weird idea of making one that has nigh fully resurfaced after a decade of sinking behind my business logic programming skills. There are other inspirations behind this new fetish which I will decline to mention here, but their spirit is compelling to me (you know who you are).
Missy bought me a copy of Wrath of the Lich King, the latest World of Warcraft expansion, and I played that a little this past weekend along with Morrowind (which I have a new-found respect for) and a brief stint with Witchaven. Let’s discuss them in that order.
WoW’s WotLK is along the same vein as its past expansion The Burning Crusade which left behind a stank of sulfuric residue in my mental crevices which has not been fully purged. And it appears I’m not alone:
Gabriel suggested that if I’m ever going to jump in to Wrath, I should jump in soon, because if I wait too long it’ll be like going to high school with an older brother who refuses to recognize you in the hall. But that’s precisely why I won’t play it: regimented, codified, other-directed “leisure” is precisely why I got out the first Goddamned time.
Beyond the playership segregation the gameplay is exactly the same as before, at least in the initial area, and has the feeling of a gigantic, virtual ADD support group. There’s tons of people, breezing through inane quest text full of unexpressed <NPC emotes> in pointy brackets, and trying to stuff themselves full of loot like it was pie at an eating contest. The content is disposable and meant to be devoured and left behind to go stale and be shat on by the next expansion. It looks great, it sounds great, it plays like a super upgrade to Golden Axe, but there isn’t much beyond said shell. That said the combat is still fun to an extent and I’m enjoying checking off Achievements.
Morrowind is the 3rd Elder Scrolls game, the prior one being Daggerfall and the latter being Oblivion. I bought it expecting Daggerfall, a bug which I fell in love with after discovering the game within, and became sorely disappointed and disillusioned with the series and Bethseda .. err.. Bethesda. Upon revisiting this crusty (2002) 3D role-playing experience, I’ve been able to satisfy a more niche aspect of video games: immersion.
Oh yes, it’s a word that’s been thrown around and used in contextually barren conversations, but there is definitely a notch more immersion here than in WoW or even Oblivion. Leveling isn’t scaled so you can go get your ass kicked if you venture out beyond the comfort area for your character, which is how it should be. There is no fast travel but there are lots of options in and around towns for skipping long distances: mage teleports, ships, and big strider “buses”.
Unfortunately, Morrowind is a shining example of the some problems which still annoy me today.
NPC’s are mostly stupid and lifeless. They do two things: walk around and stand around … or be dead. In Oblivion you can add some superfluous actions to that list, but in general they’re just as stupid. Since the NPC’s don’t do anything, it’s hardly believable that any community in the game actually functions as they tell you it does. Oh yes yes, we mine or farm or make weapons or whatever. Well, do it! With these dolts’ lives revolving around the player, it’s difficult to become truly immersed.
WoW NPC’s are even worse, but they’ve gotten better over time. Now you’ll actually see little skirmishes between warring NPC factions which is a nice touch. It is still Warcraft after all.
Well, I’m done with lunch and it’s time to get back to fixing bugs and dreaming about my perfect game.