OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one: You’re going along in a new MMORPG, happily zipping across verdant landscapes, doing quests in a world of farm land and crystal lakes and classic architecture and it’s beautiful and welcoming. And then an hour or two in, you get to The Cutscene, and on the other side is… absolute devastation.
I’m talking about classic Guild Wars, of course, and the transition from Pre-Searing Ascalon to Post, which was so jarring that it was an easy bail point for a lot of folks who’d been enchanted with the pastoral introduction and couldn’t stomach the ashy ruin of everything they’d come to know in the game. I suspect the switchover from soloable to group content right about then also had a lot to do with it, but if you chat with any old school GW1 player, he or she will have a story about the feeling of having lost an anchor to the game right around that transition.
I dunno whether that was the worst zone transition of all time – I still love the game myself and feel mostly nostalgia rather than repulsion for Post, nowadays – but it’s surely one that MMO zone designers use as an example of how good storyline intentions can go wrong for the actual player experience. What would you say is the worst MMO zone transition of all time?