Should MMORPGs Be Simpler?
As Tobold points out, with the release of Cataclysm Blizzard will be simplifying many of the stats that are currently in the game, including things like Spell Power, Attack Power and Defense. Check out his article for a full list.
I’m in two frames of mind about the whole thing. I agree in principle with what Blizzard are trying to accomplish (making the game more accessible and streamlined) but I also wonder if it’s taking away a lot of what we love about MMORPGs – choice. Part of the fun and drive of these games is to improve your character through itemisation and by removing statistics and components like Attack Power, Defense and Armor Penetration, they are effectively reducing the pool of options available to us.
The flip side of the coin is that statistics will be a lot more instantly recognisable and players won’t need to rely on stat calculators to determine what item gives them the best increase. Blizzard are also being careful to help simplify the gearing process in groups and raids by making sure that plate wearers will only want plate items and won’t be tempted on rolling on leather or mail items just for the stats. It’s a clever move which should help eliminate a lot of squabbles.
Overall, I don’t think this move will have a large impact on me as a WoW gamer as I’m just a very casual player of the game. Still, it does make we wonder where the balance lies. I want my RPGs to be fairly complex as, traditionally, they have always been that way and required a little bit of thought and foresight in order to gain the best benefits. It may also remove a lot of choice from the game and make items a lot more samey and less interesting. However, saying that, I also understand that some statistics are just silly and unnecessary and complicated for the sheer sake of it.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the release of Cataclysm. Undoubtedly there will be the usual cries that Blizzard are “dumbing down” the game and, well, that is hard to argue with in this case. But is it the right move? Will it improve the game? As Blizzard are often the trendsetters in the MMORPG universe (with new games copying their approach in order to try and recreate their success) we will likely see a lot more of this in other games. That’s the most worrying thing to me: seeing Blizzard’s approach mimicked poorly in the next wave of MMORPGs, leaving us with games that lack any sort of variety or complexity.