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A game frozen in amber

Matthew Rossi

This isn't the game I started playing!

This is a paraphrasing, of course, but the mentality is real enough. People lament that the communities have changed, that raiding has changed, that gearing has changed, that dungeons have changed, that how we play has changed, that our classes have changed. And every individual has to answer for him or herself whether or not the game has changed enough that it's not worth playing for you anymore.

Personally, I recommend that if you feel that way, you stop playing. But more importantly, it must be stated that the change we're discussing is an inevitability, especially since it's basically stated that World of Warcraft is more likely to see expansions and additions than a sequel ala Guild Wars 2 or EverQuest 2. WoW is going to keep changing as long as it exists, trying to address player concerns and improve its systems even as it gains new levels and sees new content. This is the nature of the beast - it will never be 2004 again, and I will never be a low level warrior getting Charge for the first time and ramming myself headlong into spiders.

The game cannot, will not, and most importantly should not freeze, not even to stay at the exact combination you found the most fun.

A game frozen in amber

We've talked in the past about features we never expected the game to add, and one of the lessons I've taken away from that is to manage my expectations. Rated BG ranks allowing purchase of old PvP gear for transmog? Being able to use any weapon with the same animation? The return of old BC models? Never say never.

It is absolutely true that the game has changed, and changed again, and again over the past near-decade of its existence. This is my sixth year writing about it, and I've been playing it since December of 2004. I have not been happy about every change. I didn't like the BC raiding game, and to this day Black Temple is pretty much my favorite BC raid (I'm very disenchanted with both Tempest Keep and Coilfang) and I didn't like Wrath of the Lich King's PvP scene to the point where I haven't been able to get back into PvP seriously since. I disliked Cataclysm's opening heroic dungeons and my teeth hurt at the player base's lack of nuance when discussing the expansion at a whole. There have been flaws and missteps (in my opinion) along the way. Heck, even Mists has me scratching my head at the sheer volume of daily quests.

What I find interesting, especially in this expansion, is how each patch seems to address concerns. You don't like daily quests? A limited form of dungeon championing returns. Ratings on PvP gear removed to encourage new players to give it a try. Systems change, ideas are tested and rolled out. It doesn't promise perfection, and I for one am glad it doesn't, because assuming the game is perfect leaves it nowhere to go. The game didn't even have Titan's Grip when it came out. By itself that makes it better in 2013 than it was in 2004 in my opinion.

The game I started playing wouldn't still be here. Let's be frank. Without the constant work of refining and streamlining and improving the game, warts and all, the game would have died in 2006. The fact that it didn't is entirely due to the work that's been done since those glory days of nostalgia, and each player has a different nostalgia period. For some of us, it's running BWL with our first real raid guild, others didn't even start playing until after ICC came out. A game frozen in amber is a fossil, evidence of what once was. As long as it is to remain a game that is instead of was, it must constantly evolve.

Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

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