I couldn’t help but get caught up in Aywren’s excitement in January, for the Manderville Gold Saucer in FFXIV. The addition of a new area dedicated to entertainment rather than combat or grinding dailies, as the cornerstone of a major patch, was pretty impressive to me. The one thing that got my attention the most, was the chocobo racing. And breeding. It just felt like a serious effort to add a long-lasting, addictive in-and-of-itself activity that deepens the player experience and enjoyment.
Contrast that to WoW’s latest 6.1 patch, which also added racing. At the one area of the game that is supposedly dedicated to entertainment rather than combat or grinding, the Darkmoon Faire. Yet instead of FFXIV’s intricate, in-depth system that pits players against each other in an exciting race to the end of the race, Blizzard has offered…a solo, time-trial experience. With no progression. No competition. No reason to repeat. No investment for the player. The WoW-chocobo mount is not yours to train, all mounts are exactly the same, and there are no rewards that affect future races (afaik).
When I first got wind of Darkmoon Faire racing, I was actually excited. Sure, it was yet another case of Blizzard trying to rip the wind out of another major MMO’s sails by blatantly copying their ideas, but usually there is a unique spin on it that adds value and makes it worthwhile. This, though…this is disappointing in the extreme. To me, it reeks of a major lack of care and commitment to quality from Blizzard. It feels like they are just throwing in whatever hot new thing they read about, with minimal thought and effort, just so they can point to WoW and say “look, we have it too!”.
It’s just sad.