I’m not joking, either. I really do miss Cataclysm.
But why? Good question. Let’s dive into the reasons for my nostalgia.
There’s no doubt that Cataclysm PvP was far from perfect, but its problems were nothing compared to what we have to deal with now. Classes were at least fairly balanced, far from perfectly, of course, but a glance back at things like the Blizzcon 2011 Arena finals when Skill Capped took on OMG, we can see that the balance was working. That was a fantastic match, longer than we’re currently used to, and the differences between then and now are clear.
PvP gear had fewer problems, too, while the latter seasons suffered from the introduction of overpowered PvE gear, the earliest one was pretty darn good. A few troublesome trinkets and some difficult legendary procs caused big issues in the arena and battlegrounds, and meant that the legendary staff was almost required for PvP casters who wanted to have the best gear. And the mixture of pre-nerf Vial of Shadows plus the legendary daggers conspired to make rogues rather too strong.
One of the biggest criticisms of Cataclysm was that it was too easy to gear, and therefore didn’t give players enough to do. But, in my eyes at least, while there was some truth in that assertion, Mists has swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Yes, patch 5.2 has gone to some lengths to alleviate that issue, but brand new alts still need to work their way through the patch 5.0 and 5.1 content to get to the newest Raid Finder and therefore the newest gear.
The Cataclysm gearing curve was essentially hit 85, head to normal dungeons to buy gear with Justice Points, get into heroic dungeons, gear with both the drops and Valor Points, then you were pretty much ready for raiding. LFR introduced another element to that, making it even easier to gear alts and mains for raiding. The Mists curve is hit 90, then dungeons, questing and dailies to 460, raid finder, dungeons, questing and dailies to 470, and then raid finder, questing and dungeons to 480, then the gearing process for the current content can begin. Daunting? It is rather.
Cataclysm used 5-man content as a catch-up mechanism, and I wonder whether that’s really a bad thing. The Mists approach is rather like saying that you have to eat a big pile of broccoli, spinach and peas before getting your dessert, while the Cataclysm vegetables comprised a few green beans, then it was straight to the ice-cream. And with the exception of the last set of 5-mans, the Cataclysm dungeons provided a great way for tanks, healers and DPS to learn their roles and classes in a fairly challenging environment.
But don’t worry, I’m not quitting. I’m just nostalgic. Logging on with PvE in mind feels like sitting down to write a huge essay – there’s so much I should be doing that I barely know where to start. Should I have fewer alts? Perhaps, but my small PvE guild needs raiders to have viable alts. What do you think? Do you feel overwhelmed by the gear grind, irritated by the absence of 5-mans to catch up with gear, or to provide tanking and healing practice? Or am I talking utter nonsense?