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The funny thing is it's better than MMOs being released today and gets the core mechanics perfectly right, MMOs today have massive flaws that can never be fixed unless they do a major overhual. I really wish Blizzard never added enter dungeons or battlegrounds from anywhere and I wish they never did TBC because the outland takes away from that seamless world feeling. I also wish that they never did flying mounts because it killed the world size feeling, exploration and killed the little world PVP that the game had left.
WoW got the world right which no other MMO to date has done nearly as well. MMOs today are all instanced and zoned like made with loads of loading screens and often have player limits per zone of 100 before they clone the zone again. WoW just had each zone flowing into the next one seamlessly and it just felt so amazing to explore that world. The only loading screen was inbetween the two major conts and even then you had to go on a boat ride, as a result it still felt kind of a seamless transition. Most MMOs would just have you go into a portal or click on an NPC or a bell. WoW had you actually getting on the boat and have it sail across the sea, so it all felt built into the world and real. WoW also had a few zones per level range to level up in, where MMOs today are so linear you only have one clear path, so making ALTS is really boring. If you hate the first 4 or 5 planets in SWTOR for example, then you'll never make an ALT in the game as you have no other choice of places to level.
The world felt amazing, it all felt so hand crafted and had lots of personality and I loved exploring it. There was just such amazing atmosphere, from the graphical effects and the sound design which just brought life to the world. I never have the same feeling in MMOs today, like SWTOR the worlds just feels so lifeless, empty and lacking in atmosphere. All I ever heard in SWTOR was my own footsteps, they seemed to lack NPCs talking outside of cutscenes and there was no atmosphere music or sounds like wind or crickets. WoW had all this and it had a day/night cycle and eventually weather, which I dunno how they left out of SWTOR. I haven't played an MMO since WoW that has made me want to explore the world, they all feel pretty generic or poorly built with loading screens everywhere, so they don't feel like worlds but game levels.
The other thing WoW got right was instances, before WOW instances were just lame and like 3 mobs standing in an empty room lol. The first instance I ever done in WoW was The Dead Mines and it would have been an epic instance for any high level content in another MMO, in WoW it was at level 20. This blew everyones minds at the quality of the instances in WoW and people still talk about it today, never before did we see instances with such detail, especially at such a low level.
The other amazing thing is WoW built the instances into the world so they felt seamless again. Like they would take up real world space and have a location on the map inside a building or cave. You had to travel inside a dungeon first to get to the instance and you had to travel manually to that instance, there was no warping automatically straight there. Taking the Dead Minds for example, it was based in a cave in Westfall and actually had a real exit, no teleporting you out and you could see the back of The Dead Mines from STV. As a result it all just felt very real and part of the world, normally I hate instances as they break the immersion, WoW however just got the balance perfectly right. Any MMO I play today either warps you inside an instance via talking to an NPC or something, they don't feel like they're in the world. You used to get PVP outside WoW's instances too as you fought to get inside them and you had to travel to them, no sitting in a fleet hub like SWTOR and warping to some unknown location that isn't on the map.
WoW also got the combat and UI right, people say WoW had bad PVP compared to DAOC but I don't agree. I played DAOC back then and the PVP sucked, it might have had good keep mechanics behind it, but the the UI and combat mechanics sucked. It felt like you were trying to steer a brick around in DAOC, the movement in WoW however was so fast and fluid. UIs before WoW were all so bad, barely functioning and just a general clusterfuck, WoW refined the MMO UI to what it is today... functioning. The combat is just so fast, fluid and instant, there isn't any weird ability delay like you get in most MMOs. It just feels so satisfying and that is why IMO it had much better PVP than other MMOs, it was actually fun to fight with the combat system. MMOs before WoW just weren't really about the combat, they were more about socialising, which is great but that doesn't make the actual PVP fun.
World PVP was amazing, again it was PVP like no other game had and still doesn't have. There were city raids every weekend, there were guilds setup to protect lowbies, massive PVP fights at Tarren Mill and Southshore. We had fights breaking out at The Crossroads and everyone remembers the nightmare levelling up was at STV. It was just amazing and all it needed was proper objectives, rewards and an Honour system. They added battlegrounds in which was great, you actually had to travel to them and queue up outside them, people were chatting to eachother outside, the enemies often raided so you got fights outside and people dueled. Then for some reason they allowed you to enter them from anywhere and world PVP really took a massive hit, I don't understand why they did that....
WoW is still the only game that got the class system right because they're all so unique and fun to play. Every MMO I play I find myself levelling up several characters to work out I don't find any of the classes fun. They either have too many classes so they feel watered down and generic or they have this 4 type of class archetype system to where every class in the archetype feels the same. WoW however had a small amount of classes but each one was so unique and very fun. I found myself levelling up every class, not to find one I found fun but to play them all as they were all so fun. The best thing is each class had 3 roles they could play to, I could be a healer as my priest or I could do damage or go for a balance for survival. In most other MMOs you never have those options, your classes are generally clear cut. It really got rid of the standard trinity system as I had options to play other roles, Priests could do DPS, Druids could Tank or heal or do DPS, Paladins could tank or heal or do both etc. Sure this wasn't the case in the super high end raids, but it never will be in MMOs. To raid you need to be set up to the optimum loadout and spec for your class, people who loved what Raids used to be were happy with that. Not all content should appeal to everyone, yet in todays MMOs they want everyone to love everything and so it all feels so dumbed down as everyone needs to be able to do it.
WoW also was the most polished MMO launch by miles for it's day, before WoW MMO launches were a mess. I'm not talking server issues, the games were always broken at launch and took months of patching to get them stable. WoW barely had any bugs at launch and was justa smooth experience apart from the server issues. You cannot blame them for that, no MMO before WoW ever attracted those kinds of numbers so they didn't expect to have to meet to such demand. There is no excuse for server issues today, now we know millions of people will login on day one, back then however MMOs had a few hundred thousand subs at most.
WoW got the core mechanics right and that was the most important thing, MMOs today fail to do this and so they lose players fast. WoW's problems were things like lack of customization, PVP objectives, crafting as abit weak etc. It was all stuff that could easily be improved upon over time, until then people had a great, innovative and amazing MMO to play. WoW was the first MMO ever to blend great PVP and PVE together, I don't care what the haters say, it had such an amazing combat system and UI to make it better. However MMOs today like take SWTOR for example again, the problems people have with the game are core issues that can never be fixed. Things like the planets feeling so linear, lifeless, instanced and enclosed would really mean scrapping and starting again and that isn't possible. WoW nailed the world and so all they needed to do is keep improving it, it was an amazing MMO and this is why it's my fave MMO of all time.
Btw I have played UO,EQ,SWG,EVE,PS and DAOC all before WoW. I know what I'm talking about before veterans flame me, my friends didn't like MMOs before WoW and then suddenly there was a game with all the right mechanics which got them playing. I remember how bad things like combat and UI were in MMOs before WoW, I mean Everquest was standing still in first person, hitting a button and waiting like 8 seconds for an attack lol... it was so slow and clunky. SWG as well was got to doctor, get buffs, make sure you have comp armour and never ever die but you will have to get new armour within the day because it decays so fast.
I'm talking about Vanilla WoW and most of it is pre allowing you to enter battlegrounds from anywhere era, I stopped playing fully though thanx to TBC and have only come back to play trials of each expansion since and hate what they've done to the game. I think most of the WoW hate today is because of how Blizzard have dumbed it down and ruined it so much, it isn't really directed at Vanilla WoW.