I've been taking a badly-needed break from punditry the last few weeks. Unfortunately, today is Tuesday. That means it's regularly-scheduled maintenance downtime for the only online game I subscribe to. It's the perfect time for me to air my opinion of all the latest changes Blizzard has made to World of Warcraft in anticipation of the big December 7th release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
Without a doubt, the changes in the last content patch have been the most radical that Blizzard has made since the beginning of the game. The talent trees have been streamlined, character statistics have been completely revamped, and a lot of players have been left with a horrible feeling that they have to learn the game from scratch.
The problem with creating game expansions for MMORPG's is that, practically by defintition, an expansion must contain new content. With new content usually comes increasing levels of complexity. Blizzard has apparently decided to handle this problem by going in the other direction with Cataclysm in the hope that they will attract more new players than they alienate. I think it could work, if only because Blizzard's fanbase will surely be curious about the new and radically altered face of Azeroth.
Overall, I am reserving judgment concerning the new patch until Cataclysm is released. If you play World of Warcraft already, I hope you will join me. If you've never considered playing an MMO in your life, Cataclysm might be a good time to give Blizzard and Warcraft a second look.