Blizzard’s removal of several portals in patch 8.1.5 is an unnecessary change with poor reasoning
Update 3/6/19: Blizzard responded to player complaints with a lengthy forum post outlining more reasons they’re moving forward with this change. It didn’t help change anyone’s mind. Original article continues below.
In patch 8.1.5, we were supposed to get a portal room in the main cities that would act as a convenient travel hub. Instead, we’re getting a shell of that, removing much of the older content we have had access to. The previous removal of other portals was supposed to be a preemptive change that would be remedied by the portal room. Turns out, it was just a precursor of what was to come. Wowhead details the portal changes, and a thread on the forums points out how much we’re actually losing with this. The short version is that more than 10 portals are being removed, and instant travel to certain locations is all but gone.
Bornakk is present in the forum thread, claiming that the removal of portals in old content helps keep the world “feeling alive” and “a bit bigger.” Bornakk, I really hope you’re just repeating the company line, because no. Removing things does not make the world feel more alive; it removes desire to go there. The world feels more accessible when we have portals available, and removing content in an effort to force change never goes over well. When we have to jump through hoops to go somewhere, we don’t go at all.
Maybe Bornakk is playing devil’s advocate in order to get discussion and responses, but the phrasing in his comments rub me and many players in the thread the wrong way. It feels condescending, like we’re too dumb to see how it’s “better” for us. The comment also uses a kind of speech that I have seen cropping up from WoW devs lately — misrepresenting something to support their argument, when it’s not actually the same. In this example, Bornakk equates having access to portals with being a Mage. He conveniently ignores the fact that Mages can travel to any capital city every 10 seconds at will from anywhere in the world, while other classes must physically travel to the portal locations that are often a one-way trip. When he has to ask why people use portals to Caverns of Time, it makes him look like he doesn’t play the game. If he’s gathering discussion for how players feel, he could say so rather than acting uninformed.
That’s not to speak of how I can’t even convey how ridiculous the reasoning appears, that they think they can artificially expand the world by making it take longer to get to places. If you want the world to feel more alive, add meaningful content. The world doesn’t feel alive now that I have to be inconvenienced in order to get to places we have had easy access to. It doesn’t feel bigger — it feels more obnoxious and tedious. I particularly like the comment pointing out how the world would also feel bigger if we were forced to RP walk everywhere.
I think this kind of change harms the game. It turns the other cities into ghost towns and makes the rest of the world feel dead and empty. With the portals still available in old content, it gave me the opportunity to go there for flavor purposes. Now, why would anyone take the extra time to visit an out of way city like Shrine or Dalaran if it’s more punishing? Maybe that’s the point. Maybe Blizzard only thinks the world feels alive when we’re all forced into the same city hub. In that case, they should stop aggressively sharding everyone in main cities so that they feel more full.
While this portal change is a minor issue by itself, it’s one more symptom of a larger problem — Blizzard focusing on things that are not an issue, trying to fix what’s not broken while ignoring the real issues. It also smacks of laziness and hubris. Laziness in trying to extend content without putting in the effort to make it better, and hubris in trying to pretend it’s for our own good and that we won’t notice. Blizzard has been on a kick lately where they feel like pruning the game makes it better, such as with classes from Legion to Battle for Azeroth. I have seen more of my friends and fellow guild members quitting this expansion more than any other time in my WoW history. Changes like this baffle me, because it is just one more thing that people vehemently hate. I really wonder what it will take for Blizzard to see that.
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