Reading Twitter pays sometimes off. There was a nice little discussion about phasing and it's effect on the game experience earlier, to which some bloggers have commented (and to even more to which the tweeps have commented on) on their own. In a way the chit-chat - as far as I know - lead to Rowan's splendid post "A Little Player in a Very Big MMO", to which Pete from Dragonchasers later in Twitter added one link to a very, very nice post about the problems of phasing, that being Battle Priestess Moxiedoodle's post "Hey! What about that Other Game?", which in turn pinpoints one sore spot I've been trying to find myself.
Whew. What a monster of a sentence.
Anyhow, now that I have lured you off from the blog I'll return to the topic. Even though I think that the quests flow nicely from hub to hub and that the whole system guides you forward at increasing speed, it still detaches you from the actual game world. It works well - exceptionally well, in fact - when you start a new character who has to get to know the basics of her trade and get the feel of the world as it is before she can take it on herself.
Fine and dandy, like a tutorial.
But for the higher level character that seems a bit exaggerated solution. The freedom to go from one hub to another has been taken away, as you must follow the story of the area to 'unlock' the next hub or flypoint. I felt very much cheated as I flew around Mt.Hyjal when I could see the flypoint mark on my minimap only to disappear as I came on the spot where it was supposed to be. Even more disheartening was the fact - which Moxiedoodle also pointed out - that the mining nodes which showed on the minimap just blinked out when you come to the spot. And no, there was no-one to be seen around the area.
For me the feel of being part of the world comes from the freedom to roam around and find the quests you really want to do. Unnown was a great blow to my belief that Cataclysm still had that trait, even though Gnomore has done miracles to the attachment to the world itself. With Gnomore I'm effectively out of the loop of guidance and mandatory quests only because I cannot do them due to the killing restriction: most probably this will cause severe problems to the character later on, as the phasing and leading from quest hub to another will become an issue working against the levelling. But I'll deal with that when it's due.
The question is, has Blizzard gone too far with the hand holding, hub to hub leading and catering to the speed levelling?
Is it really so that Cataclysm was the first blow which will kill WoW as we know it?