Exploring Azeroth with quest icons on the map

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|06.26.09

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Exploring Azeroth with quest icons on the map
We've heard this argument before, and every time Blizzard makes a change to help players complete quests more quickly, it comes up again. And with the recent announcement that Blizzard will actually be adding quest targets to the ingame maps (again replicating another function of the popular Questhelper addon), players have again brought up the old argument: is the game too dumbed-down? Originally, when the game began (though I don't know anyone that didn't still use Wowhead to find quest coordinates even back then), you were sent "east" to find a tiny little brown backpack to click on, and in the next patch, not only will you see that brown backpack sparkling with flares as you get close, but you'll have it marked on your map the entire time.

Larisa waxes nostalgic over at the Pink Pigtail Inn, and says that this is just farther down a sliding slope that leads to a ravine where we all just have two spells and need to kill three boars to level to 100. Kinless Chronicles straight out says "Patch 3.2 will play for you" with some funny tongue-in-cheek analysis. But since I do it so much anyway, I'll play the Devil's advocate here: let's face it, we all used the addons and coordinates while leveling up alts, if not even while leveling mains. It's easy to be nostalgic, but I never did like hunting around for that little pixel of brown you had to click on to finish a quest, and if you really do want to stumble around in the dark the old way, just don't look at your map and/or close the minimap down. I've recently played two other console games, Fable 2 and Dead Space, that also offer glowing line navigation straight to your quest targets, and I did feel a sense of exploration in both -- if I wanted to wander off the path, I was welcome to (and usually rewarded for it), while if I just wanted to get to where I was going, I could do that, too.

Does that mean that Larisa and Kinless are both dead wrong? No, of course not -- the old world's magic was in the exploration, and I do agree that if you are leveling through the old world with all of these changes, you're going to have a completely different experience than we all did back when, as Larisa says, Stonetalon Mountains was a wild, uncharted place you had to find for yourself. But Blizzard isn't interested in preserving that old experience -- they're interested in getting people to the endgame, where all of the new and shiny is. Back when we wandered into Stonetalon Mountains, we might see the roads full of people, or see an opposite faction player fighting with mobs along the way. But nowadays, those places are pretty much wastelands. And making quests quicker is the best and easiest way to keep players interested and get them out of there.

So yes, I'm fine with the changes, and no, I don't think it's the end of the world (of Warcraft). There are other ways to challenge and interest you besides making you hunt for a needle in a haystack (and if Blizzard really does make you want to hunt for a needle in a haystack, there's probably still ways they can do it, in or out of a quest). I can understand the nostalgia, and I agree that we are losing something (not the first time that's happened, or the last). But I'm going to appreciate the time saved hunting for quest items -- personally, I plan to spend it doing even more quests.
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!
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