I admit it, I was excited when I heard that the newest patch (1.5) would add 12 new instances to the game. Twelve new instances! At first thought that is something to be excited about. But, the more I think about it the less excited I am for them. Let me explain.
Instancing is killing WoW. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy. I may be crazy but I am right, at least for us old-time WoW players. You know, the ones who long for “vanilla” WoW. I look on those days with nostalgia, nearly as high as I have for DAoC. So, what changed for me from those halcyon days of yore to the current WotLK version of WoW? Instancing.
Yeah, I know there were instances in “vanilla” WoW. Quite a few in fact, but they never seemed to be so prevalent. They never seemed to be so…world consuming.
These days everyone is in an instance. A 5-man dungeon, an Arena, a battleground or a raid. Doesn’t matter what instance, at any given time over half the population seems to be in one instance or another. Consequently, the larger world seems dead. Especially at level cap. Most of the time when you do see someone outside an instance they are either in Dalaran or on their way to an instance. That seems to be the only thing to do at level cap. If you like PvE the best loot and rewards come from instances. If you enjoy PvP the best loot and rewards come from Arenas and battlegrounds. Everyone goes because thats where the loot is. Combine that with all the meeting stones, easy summons and flying mounts and you rarely see people running around on the ground. WoW has become a large social chat room with mini-games (instances) thrown in for fun.
So, the world seems dead.
WAR almost made the open world relevant again with its Public Quests feature. Then Mythic did a completely counter-productive move by making leveling easiest in their Scenarios. So, instead of a busy, populated and “alive” world, we got a dead world where no one did anything outside of instances. The Public Quests sit there empty and dead and WAR suffered for it. Mythic tried to rectify that with later patches but much of the damage was already done.
I do not want Aion to turn out like this. I want an active and populated open world. I don’t want the only people I see outside of cities to be either leveling or on their way to an instance.
Sure, put a few instances in the game. I like instances, they can be a fun distraction at times. Key words there are: distraction at times. Don’t make the entire end game revolve around instances, be it dungeons, raids or PvP. Make the open world compelling and profitable. Make the open world fun and competitive. Make the open world alive.
Luckily, most of the endgame still seems to be fully focused on the Abyss, and thats a good thing.