Birthday parties, flowers, pregnancies, and live hand grenades: not all surprises are good surprises. But what about surprises in our games? How much do we want to know about our new expansion before we scurry over to Best Buy feverishly hoping to grasp a copy in our sweaty little palms? Do we always want to know what is around the next bend in game? Or is it better left as a surprise – whether it’s a treasure or the open maw of a dragon?
In Cataclysm we know that some point around the next bend is going to be the maw of dragon – Deathwing. But that isn’t all we know about the next WoW expansion. Blizzard has been dropping Cataclysm knowledge on us like it’s hot. (?) We know now that the two new races are worgen and goblins. We know the new starting zones are Gilneas and the Lost Isles. We know that new classes are going to become available for some of our favorite old races. We know that our gear is getting overhauled again – and that this time not all our statistics are going to make the jump to the new game (say goodbye to mana/5 – J). We know that raids, whether we like it or not, are going to be composed of your 9 closest buddies. We even know that a blast from the past, Ragnaros, is busting back out of the elemental plane where we banished him; and apparently he’s pissed. But have all the knowledge bombs Blizzard has dropped on us recently dampened the excitement for Cataclysm? Is too much information a bad thing?
No and yes – possibly in that order. Let me explain. Certainly if Blizzard laid out all their plans for the expansion it would dampen the mood. But I don’t think they have. We may know the main antagonist of the expansion but very little is known about the events that will actually lead up to the encounter with Deathwing. WOTLK was staged pretty similarly. We knew going in that Arthas was ultimately in our cross hairs, but that didn’t ruin the epic quests leading up to our final confrontation with him, quite the contrary. The same holds true for Ragnaros. We know he will be making a Will Ferrel-esque cameo, but we aren’t totally sure in what role. Even more intriguingly, we know that Blackrock mountain is going to have a new instance – and that it is not our old buddy Rag. Who has been setting up shop down there since we last poked our head about? While we know some of the big baddies that lurk around the corner in Cataclysm – we don’t know the story, not yet anyway. Blizzard has given us the nuts and bolts of the new expansion but without the story we really don’t know what the finished product will look like.
Too much information can be a bad thing. That’s why not everyone gets a beta key. Whether you play for the new boss encounters or the story or both, without mystery, suspense, and surprise a game is little more than a bunch of brightly colored pixels flashing on the screen. While I do not think that Blizzard has crossed the boundary into too much information land yet, I kind of hope they put a metaphorical sock in it from now on about the expansion. I am sure that they still have a few had grenades waiting for us. Let’s go see what they are.