I do enjoy and appreciate the redesigned world of Cataclysm, but I keep getting caught off guard by the way they’ve changed questing flow. Used to be you’d roll into a new zone, pick up all the quests, venture out into the wilderness and do everything, then come back for your rewards. Some of those quests would continue as longer chains, which you would go back out and work on until you ran out of quests. If you were lucky, one of those chains would end in a breadcrumb pointing you to a higher-level zone, otherwise you just upped stakes and moved on when you ran out of stuff to do.
Now, you rarely have more than two or three quests open to you at a time. Your movement through the zone is tightly controlled, sometimes with phasing, with quests constantly pushing you from one place to another on a carefully mapped path. If you miss or choose not to do a quest, you get locked out of the rest of the zone, even if there’s no logical reason why you should have to defeat the local bandits before you can feed the farmer’s chickens.
I miss the old design, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its problems or that the new design is a bad choice. In the old days, you felt more like a wandering hero, facing the dangers of the world far from the safety and comfort of civilization, but at the same time questing often seemed pointless and unconnected to anything tangible. How many times did we look at our quest log and ask: “Who are we killing, again? Why do we want their handkerchiefs? Where did we even get this quest, and what are we supposed to do with the dohickey the questgiver handed us?” In the new design, everything is immediate, you always know where to go next, and you get to watch a story unfold around you. On the other hand, your character ends up as just one more cog in the machine, going through the same rotations as everybody else. If you want to do a zone, you have to do it the same way as every other character, no deciding to go kill mad cultists first and gather ingredients for stew later, or choosing to skip the goat poop quest this time around.
Of course, as writer of a silly comic, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make fun of the new system, just like I made fun of the old one.