But probably not the way you think.
The usual argument used to be “the zones are empty, there are no players anywhere, it feels like a single player game”.
With the introduction of the Cross Realm Zones (CRZ) Blizzard has somewhat fixed that situation, resulting in full zones again, including all the drawbacks like mob tagging/stealing, ore/leather/herb “stealing” etc.
But the fact that in WoW other players are often seen as something bad is not todays topic.
No, today I’ll take a look at the actual content that’s available in the game and how much it’s still used.
You see, in theory, World of Warcraft is absolutely massive, but with each expansion tons of content become totally obsolete and with the constantly increased leveling speed, players see less and less of the content that’s still available.
This will be more of an overview posting instead of long ramblings, I hope 😉
I’ll go over the main game and all the expansions and just see how much of that content is still viable, doable or intresting.
Let’s start with classic WoW, the Cataclysm remade one.
There are about 40 zones available from Level 1 to 60, not counting the ones for new races added with BC and later expansions.
Now, there probably aren’t many players left who have leveled a character all the way from 1-60 in classic WoW and also leveled one with guild boosts and heirlooms just recently, so I’ll explain it:
When 1-60 was all we had, taking a character to the max level wouldn’t take you to all the zones, but you’d see a LOT of them. Some briefly, some for many days. In addition to that, when hitting 60, there were usually several zones left which offered direct (regular quest) or indirect (dungeon prequests) rewards that were useful.
When leveling a character through the new content now, you’ll see about 10 zones, usually skipping to the next before finishing the current and all that in a very short amount of time. There’s nothing of use in the remaining zones and not going to the Outlands when reaching 58 is a terrible waste of time.
So, while there are still players in most of the zones (nobody uses the same zones to level till Outlands), for each individual player about 75% of the classic zones are completely useless and irrelevant. What used to offer players hundreds of gameplay hours is now dead content. And I really doubt some zones are visited by leveling players at all anymore, like Silithus. Sure, those quests get done by many players, but only because there’s an achievement for it. We’ve talked about this before.
1-60 dungeons and raids:
Thanks to the LFG system, many of them still see players regularly. But I dare you to level a character through questing and visit every instance at the appropriate level. This wasn’t a problem in 2005, but today, you’ll outlevel the content so fast, it’s impossible to see it all. Again, just like with the zones, one player doesn’t even come close to seeing even half of the dungeon content.
Many dungeons were remade or re-released and usually the level was lowered. Take a look at Stratholme or the School of Necromancy. They were high level endgame dungeons and if Blizzard hadn’t lowered their level, they would be dead as well, because players just wouldn’t bother with that content if they have access to Outland dungeon rewards.
The remaining dungeon content, like LBRS or UBRS (which is actually the last remaining classic 10 man “raid”), isn’t used by anyone anymore, except for (you guessed it) achievements.
Raid content is even worse.
There used to be seven classic raids: Zul’Gurub, Ahn’Qiraji Ruins, Onyxia, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Ahn’Qiraji Temple and Naxxramas.
Zul’Gurub got removed and rereleased as a Lvl85 5man dungeon.
Onyxia got removed and rereleased as a Lvl80 raid.
Naxxramas got removed (I’ll never forgive you for that, Blizzard!) and rereleased as a Lvl80 raid.
So there are four old raids left in their original state and for a normal player (who doesn’t play in a Lvl60 guild), these are again, completely dead and useless. Sure, you can go in and nuke everything down for achievements and transmog gear, but that’s no replacement for a full blown challenging raid.
The content that used to entertain players for months and offer hundreds of hours for a single character is now reduced to a pathetic 24hour leveling nuisance where players hardly see any of the zones or dungeons and none of the raids. Good job so far, Blizzard!
Moving on to TBC, aka 60-70:
4 new 1-20 leveling zones, which are still used by the new classes.
7 new 60-70 leveling zones. Players usually hit max level after about 5-6 zones and the remaining content still offered a lot in terms of rewards for players to play through them.
Today? With leveling gear you’re ready for the next expansion content after 3-4 zones with the rest being completely unattractive to you. Good work Blizzard, 50% of your own content killed (except for achievements, yay!)
The dungeons aren’t much better, in fact: They’re worse. While you might be able to see some of them if you regularly queue for them, you won’t see them all, especially not the lvl70 ones…and DEFINITELY not the heroic versions…not one of them, ever! These were among the best content of TBC and now they’re useless junk for 99% of the playerbase.
Raids are the same: Eight raid instances and not one is relevant for anyone anymore! *coughachievementscough*
While there are a few Lvl70 guilds, they’re hardly representative for the regular playerbase.
The ninth raid instance, Zul’Aman got trashed as well and re-released in Cataclysm as a 5 man dungeon.
Next up: Wrath of the Lich King.
These descriptions keep getting shorter and shorter, because there’s a pattern.
Zones, dungeons, heroic dungeons and raids behave exactly the same. The only content still viable today is about half of the leveling zones and (if you want) a couple of the dungeons. All previous endgame content like high level dungeons, heroic dungeons and the nine raid instances, are dead content. And the content you DO go through, usually doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to.
Oh and look! The remake of the Onyxia encounter and even the Naxxramas raid, which was redone for WotLK so “all players can enjoy this raid instance and not only hardcore raiders from WoW classic” are once more totally irrelevant and most players will not see them. Even if you go in there for achievements or transmog gear, it’s hardly the same. And you’d have to try extremely hard to find players doing those raids at the proper level.
So, Wrath of the Lich King as well got reduced to a fraction of its former size.
Almost there: Cataclysm!
Same old, same old. The goblin and worgen zones are still being leveled through.
Blizzard probably put tens of thousands of hours into remaking the old zones…but for what? With the insane leveling speeds and XP boosts, nobody will ever see them. And in order to make previously intresting high level zones available to leveling players, like the eastern plaguelands, they had to lower those zones’ level.
Heroic Dungeons are dead as well…good thing Blizzard put a lot of work into remaking those Classic and TBC raids…because those lasted for a year or so and now they’re useless again, with nobody using them properly anymore.
The raids are more or less dead…they can be done with a couple of players for fun, which is at least a bigger challenge than AoEing down the Molten Core, but as raiding content, they’re dead.
Leveling through the zones is ridiculously fast. When leveling a character these days you’ll hit 85 after ~2 zones out of five.
So, even the Cataclysm, which is just a few months old now, is already mostly irrelevant and dead. Two, maybe three zones are used for leveling from 80-85 and a few dungeons might still be visited, although that’s usually lowering your leveling speed if you do a dungeon more than once.
Each of these expansions offered tons of content, even if you did’t grind the Dragon Soul raid for nine agonizing months. Imagine if Blizzard didn’t change any of the XP requirements, leveling speed and more. Sure it would take ages to get to max level, but having a character at max level would mean something again. I could even imagine a situation where you had to gear your character in the current leveling bracket. Do some dungeons, maybe heroics because the new zones were tough and required at least max level and gear from lvl 60/70/80… dungeons. Demanding raid gear in the new zones would probably be too harsh, but nowadays, with LFR, it’s a possibility as well. But make LFR harder, please.
Nowadays it’s completely accepted by the playerbase that they spend way more time in the current endgame than in all the content before combined. The main game, the expansions…everything is so obsolete, that it’s just ridiculous. And quite sad as well…just think of the work that went into all that content, and for what? To be left to die or remade on occasion to be current content again for a few months and then fading back into nothingness.
In conclusion, Blizzard has managed to kill off most of their own game just to make sure players don’t have to level too long or gear up for anything other than the current endgame. WoW used to have so much to offer…in fact, classic WoW alone had so much more relevant content than the whole game from 1-90 these days. And another thing is worth mentioning: Sure, it might still take 100+ hours of game time to get to max level, but you’re rushing through the content so fast, you can hardly pay any attention. Compare that to the old days where a single zone used to last for days and really got you invested in the storyline…all without the linearity of todays quest design.