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What content?

Published by Brunold on Sa, 06/13/2015 - 11:26 in

The notion of “open world“ doesn't seem to be clearly defined. The lack of a clear definition matters in this case. “Open world“ is often treated as synonymous to “sandbox style“. Sandbox style games are games in which the player influences her virtual surroundings, either by playing an avatar, whose actions alter said world, or directly, which is the case with the Sims-franchise or games that offer world editors. Sandbox style games then get contrasted with theme park games which offer a mostly static world. Both kinds of games can be open world games. One offers a static open world, the other an alterable open world. World of Warcraft is more of a theme park open world game, although phasing and garrisons shook things up quite a bit.

For this blog, I am going to use “open world” as opposed to WoW's instanced world, e. g. dungeons and raid instances. Crucial to the notion of an open world is its continuing accessibility. You're not gated by quest progression or game levels. I can't really justify excluding instances, however, except for taking that to be common understanding.

After this rather poor attempt at getting shared and substantial theoretical background, it's time to get our hands dirty and ask the big question: What's open world content in Warlords, then?

There are dozens of quests for the main story line, side quests and even hidden quests. This is content that had been offered, although its rewards might not be attractive, you might already have done it or you're not the kind of player who wants to search for quests.

Then there's treasure hunting. Draenor also offers new pets to collect and new trainers to battle. Catching lunkers for Nat Pagle would keep you busy for a month. Then there are bonus objectives, which in all sincerety are quests without any text whatsoever (yes, I think, they're incredibly lame). People with a barn can invest about half an hour per day for capturing cattle and a mage tower allows you to farm Ogre Waystones for converting them to Apexis crystals. Rogues got a little pickpocketing mini-game. You can grind mobs for reputation. There's the garrison campaign, which doesn't take much time, but it is there and it sends you out into the open world (so, yes, I exclude garrisons, because calling them “open world” would be distasteful at this point). There are around five achievements per daily objective-zone. We got the Harrison Jones daily, a group daily and the jukebox has another short quest line.

Hopefully, this was a fairly exhaustive list of open world content in Warlords of Draenor. But very obviously, some players – maybe even the majority – don't count this as content. It is important to note that this is okay. The definitions for “open world” and for “content” are blurry, at least for us consumers. If you don't count this as content, you use criteria which differ from mine and I would be very interested in learning about them.

One last thought: From where I stand the amount of people, who currently leave the game, seems to be a big problem for many of us. Playing with other people has immediate influence on the perceived richness of content. We play together until our friends leave the game, at which point a lot of motivation vanishes. Maybe we don't want to solo-queue for dungeons because of our community's toxicity. Or we don't have to help other people getting gear anymore. If we want something that truly feels like an MMO (and I want that), we have to keep this in mind in asking for content. If we ask for more content, and we get it, and our friends return, we'll be confronted with a choice to either spend less time on personal content progression, or neglect other players.

I'm too stupid to get account-creation to work, therefore you aren't able to comment on this blog. But I'm available at Twitter, at Facebook and I'm going to add links to any blog responding to this blog post in a useful and decent way. If I come across earlier articles about open world content in general or in Warlords, They're going to get linked here, too.