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Wife and I returned to try WoW again. The game plays nice and smooth and easy and is very enjoyable up to a point.
The thing that turned us off and caused us to leave once again was the degree to which content is hidden behind artificial gates. Leveling up my guy in the Panda zones I felt strong and wanted more of a challenge so I moved to the next zone. But not one single quest was available to me. You can't quest in the 86 zone until you are 86 and you can't quest in the 87 zone until you are 87. I've never seen an MMO where all of the leveling content was strictly gated like this.
Then, once you are max level, everything is hidden behind gates. Reputation gates, currency gates, gear level gates. Even crafting is gated and limited by bind on pickup items that can only be made on a timer. Every piece of endgame content is gated behind a required gear level. That means the game decides when you are ready to try something. You don't get to decide. You aren't allowed to push yourself.
I felt like I was back in kindergarten with the teacher leading me by the hand to each activity. Despite the many good qualities of WoW I was seriously turned off by such a heavy handed level of control and limitation.
Is anybody else strongly offended by this style of game design?
Wife and I went back to Rift. It's a lot of fun at the low levels and especially nice now because there are so many players in the lowbie zones. I worry that it will copy the WoW model of gated content at max level but I doubt it could possibly be quite so bad.