Traxy over at I Like Pancakes wrote an interesting post about feeling ambivalent about the game right now. I have to say, I can understand where he's coming from.
With Cataclysm's initial release, my bestfriend and gaming partner plowed ahead of me, doing the whole playing right at midnight and staying up for 36 hours or something, rushing to get higher level. He's 85 now. He's told me that he felt rushed through some of the questing where he would have liked to see the lore. He's been running 5-mans with his guild and working to get geared up, and eventually he'll go back and see all of the story on one of his alts.
With him shooting out ahead of me, I was kind of left at a loss of where to begin with Cataclysm. Being guildless, I don't really have the urge to rush ahead and get raid ready right away. After a lot of thought, I decided I would level up my main first, but that I would do it slowly, my way, taking in all of the story and enjoying it.
Boy, am I enjoying it. I think it helped that I went to Mount Hyjal first. The lore there is just incredible.
Traxy made mention of a lot of quests being the kill X number of things, or gather X number of things, and that's true. There are still a lot of those kinds of quests out there, but the difference I'm finding is that if you read the quest text, there are good reasons for killing things or gathering things. Interspersed amongst these quests are the meat and potatoes of the storyline. I find the story to be far more seamless than it once was and its very easy to get immersed in it.
It's kind of funny to me, the choices I've made in playing since Cataclysm launch. In the past I've tried very hard to keep all of my professions at about the same level as the zone I'm in, taking them all up gradually at the same time. I haven't thought more than once about my cooking or fishing skill. I want to skill them up, but the pull of the story is too great. I keep thinking I should go back to Stormwind and work on it, but then I get some amazing mission to complete and I can't be bothered. I've been back to Stormwind twice since I first stepped into the newest zones. Once on the insistence of my partner, and once in between Mount Hyjal and Vashj'ir.
As amazing as the story has been, I have my concerns about re-playability. As Windsoar at Jaded Alt has said in her post about Vashj'ir, the story line is very linear. There's not much option to not do a quest that is distasteful to you and still continue with the chains that are needed to complete a zone. Once you've done a zone, you have most likely seen all of it. I guess we've said goodbye to those random hidden quests that are so awesome to just stumble across (I'm looking at you, quest to get the Sprite Darter Hatchling).
I haven't set foot in any dungeons yet. I'm kind of afraid to. I don't want the story to be broken up by a random dungeon. For the same reason, I haven't started Archaeology yet. It looks awesome, but I'm terrified that its going to engross me. All I'm going to want to do is go to dig sites and uncover ancient ruins and fossils. So I'm saving the dungeons and the Archaeology for after I'm 85 and have completed all the zones that I wanted to.
That's my biggest regret from Wrath, I never did quest much in Icecrown. On all of my toons I would hit 80 long before making it out there, and then would jump right into the gear-up to raiding. I could have taken the time out and done it, but by the time I realized that I even cared about it, well, it was going to be too difficult to get back into the swing of the lore. I'm not making that mistake in this expansion. Every zone will be completed by at least one toon.
I have made a Worgen and a couple Goblins that I haven't even gotten out of the starting zones with yet. I still have my alts in the back of my mind. They creep into my thoughts when I'm not playing, because when I am playing I can't be bothered to do anything else but see what happens next.
I almost feel as though the Shattering patch came out too late, but the expansion itself came out too early. I could have used a little more time on my alts. I was having a blast leveling slowly through the re-vamped zones. Now, although my focus is on 80-85, I still feel greatly conflicted. Will I remember where my alts left off once I'm done with the high level stuff? Will I end up starting all over with a new stable of alts? Time will tell.
Between the desire to keep up with my friend, the desire to see all of the story, and the desire to see an alt through the newly re-vamped world, I was feeling ambivalent too. I actually fluctuated for a while considering not even purchasing Cata right away (mostly due to money constraints).
On the urging of my bestfriend, I realized that I wouldn't be happy if I didn't keep up with the story. I've been pretty close to spoiler free this whole time. I have no idea what is in store for me in Deepholm or Uldum and beyond. Heck, I have no idea where I'm headed even in Vashj'ir, and that's the way I like it. If I'd waited to get Cata, I think I probably would have ended up seeing or learning about things that I really wanted to see first hand.
Thank you, Spellpower, for pushing me in this direction, and for getting me the expansion. I've had more fun so far than I can even put into words, and there's still so much more to do and see.
Ultimately, my major goal for the expansion for now, is to get Loremaster on both a new Alliance and a new Horde toon. So far, I haven't been making any progress towards that, but that's ok. If my judgment is correct, I have approximately 2 years to get it all done, and without worrying about raiding it shouldn't be an issue.