The Dry Hilly ZoneOctober 19, 2008
If you play enough MMOs, RPGs or even platformers, you quickly become accustomed to (and cynical of) game devs who have fondnesses for “themed” areas. For instance:
- The Volcano-and-Lava Zone! (Does anyone, ever, like these zones?)
- The Spooky Forest Zone!
- The Arid Desert Zone!
- The Ice/Winter Zone!
- The Rolling Grasslands Zone!
- The Swamp Zone!
- The Zone of Incredibly Irritating and Unnavigatable Landscapes!
And so on. Ever since, like, Super Mario Bros., “themed zones” have been done to death and then some, but unless you want to get totally abstract and bizarre, all zones have to be themed after stuff we know, i.e. “Earth”. This is why game devs have to extra crafty and clever when creating a themed zone, because you want to work with the theme and give it a cool twist so that players won’t go “Hey! This is just like Theme Zone in Game X!” and stomp off in a huff.
We’ll compare and contrast zones in WAR some other time, but I just bring this up to say that I’ve been dithering around in the Dry Hilly Zone (aka “Badlands”) for about a week now, and I’m ready to be done. Can I be done please? It’s just not an exciting landscape, and it has the unfortunate side effect of reminding me of two of WoW’s Dry Hilly Zones: Badlands (coincidence) and Desolace. Or not just a few of LOTRO’s zones. Lots of browns with dead trees and little vegetation, hills and crevices that make navigating it a pain. I’m not sure why level designers always throw in a Dry Hilly Zone, but egads, I’m not a fan. My thought is, if you’re going to put in really annoying mining pits into the middle of an already-craggy zone, you better well put in racing mining cars a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to make it worth my while.
I’m also not a fan of how many MMOs theme zone progression as such: earlier levels = pretty, but as you go on, later levels = ugly blotchy death. It’s like you’re being visually punished for leveling. Bad Syp! Stay in starter zones!
It’s okay in a way — nobody can expect to fall 100% in love with all of the zones of a game, but I do feel a bit trapped. Partially because I’m up against level 29 content at level 25, and partially because I’m stubborn and won’t move out of this pairing. So I guess Syp’s up for 4 or so ranks of nothing but scenarios, maybe Mt. Gunbad, and the occasional world PvP. It’s not a cheery thought.