I used to be a casual World of Warcraft player – since vanilla. Aside from the huge world, rich PVE & PVP content, required skills, social aspect, faction / class possibilities and the general overall fun; what I liked the most was that I was able to lose myself in the game. As if I have entered a new world through a portal.
Coming back home from work at the end of a busy day, playing WoW made me relax and have lots of fun; because I had a break from the real world for a short while. It was my secret little vacation.
Then, something changed over a period of time. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but it was there. The game wasn’t what it used to be. I tried different classes, alternative factions, changed my weight between PVP / PVE, etc. Every single change I made had me play a little longer, but after about 10 years of WoW, it was time to accept that the game lost its spark for me.
Meanwhile; I heard people talking about Witcher 3; so I started playing it. Now don’t get me wrong, Witcher 3 is not a MMORPG. It isn’t even a multiplayer game. However; the story, atmosphere, music, characters, gameplay, and many other aspects made something possible once again: To lose yourself in the game and forget about the real world for a while.
That was the exact point when I realized what was wrong with WoW nowadays: I can’t take WoW seriously any more. I mean, there are kung-fu pandas running around, and at every bank holiday, you get a similar event in Azeroth – Valentines Day, Christmas, Easter; you name it, they have it. Rather than an alternative world, it slowly turned out to be a cartoony reflection of our world itself. Nevertheless; it is really silly to see a fierce orc warrior carry a bunny-balloon or being followed by a pet. Now how can I ever take this seriously and make myself a part time resident of this world?
Fight mechanics have also gotten worse over the time. Nowadays; you have 5 major buttons to hit, and mostly fight in whack-a-mole style. Generally speaking; even if you assume that magic really exists, lots of things happening in PVP / PVE fights don’t make sense at all.
Quests and achievements have also taken their share of the overall fall. And what about garrisons? If I wanted to play Farmville or Clash of Clans, I would play those games themselves. Not some warcraft-ized decoy. Making NPCs run around & call you “Commander!” at every instance possible isn’t enough to keep things interesting.
No matter which class I play and how I spend my time in the game; my logic often gets in the way and says “Hey! What just happened is so stupid, this is not real!”.
Witcher 3, on the other hand, brought back that long lost feeling of having a brief part-time life in an alternate universe. Apparently, they did everything in their power to ensure this; with great success.
One thing that amazed me is how your dialogs and actions shape how the rest of the game goes. Another instance of their effort is that all characters “speak”. When you are dealing with a quest, all the NPCs actually speak to you, instead of popping up text windows. Imagine the effort behind that. Combat system relies on you knowing the enemy, picking the right tools on that instance, and your reflexes – mindless facerolling won’t get you too far. Those are just a few examples from an overall great game; find out the rest by yourself.
Overall; the storyline, quests, atmosphere, gameplay; everything is consistent – like WoW used to be.
Don’t get me wrong though – WoW is no game to scoff at. It is one of the most successful games ever, fun as hell, and I’m still looking forward for the movie to come out. However, it simply doesn’t make sense any more – over time, it turned into a cartoony earth reflection rather than a fierce combat game involving developing your character.
If I would start playing WoW today, I would probably still play it for a long time and have fun. So if you never played WoW before, don’t let my frustration over 10 years discourage you from trying it. However; if you got tired of WoW (and liked Assassin’s Creed), Witcher 3 definitely deserves a shot.