World Of Warcraft Fans Are Perturbed Over Pulled Portals 

Next week’s World of Warcraft 8.1.5 update gives both the Alliance and Horde factions centralised portal hubs, which is good. At the same time, Blizzard is removing a bunch of existing portals, making it harder to get around the game. It’s an odd change that has players asking Blizzard why, and they aren’t satisfied with the answer.

Reported last week by the fine folks at Wowhead, centralised portal hubs are a common request from World of Warcraft players.

Rather than catching boats and zeppelins, taking overly long gryphon trips, or hunting down existing portals scattered about the cities, a central location with portals connecting to most commonly travelled locations would be a boon to travel-weary adventurers.

That’s what players had in mind. It turns out Blizzard had other ideas.

The new portal hubs are currently featured on the public test server and are going live next week. Located in the Stormwind mage tower and inside the gates of Orgrimmar, each hub features portals to seven locations:

  • The Burning Crusade expansion’s Shattrath
  • Wrath of the Lich King’s Dalaran
  • Mist of Pandaria’s Jade Forest
  • Legion’s Azuna
  • Faction-specific cities for Warlords of Draenor and Battle for Azeroth
  • Blood elf or draenei starting areas from The Burning Crusade

These hubs also feature a non-player character that will teleport players to the Blasted Lands, where the Dark Portal stands.

The Stormwind portal room, courtesy of Wowhead.

That isn’t a bad selection, though there are some glaring omissions.

There’s still no quick way to get from Orgrimmar to the Tauren hometown of Thunder Bluff.

Alliance characters looking to get from Stormwind to Ironforge still have to take the tram.

Portals to every major faction city can be found in the current expansion’s hub towns of Boralus and Dazar’alor, but lower-level characters still have to hoof it.

There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get to Karazhan and the Caverns of Time any more.

Worst of all, the Legion version of the floating city of Dalaran, still used by many as a teleportation hub, is being purged of portals, a move that will likely leave the city a shadow of its former self.

Orgrimmar’s portal room, courtesy of Wowhead.

The news of the portal shuffling caused quite a stir amongst players unhappy with the changes. A massive thread in the official World of Warcraft forums titled “Stop Removing Portals” has garnered more than 5000 replies, including one from community manager Bornakk attempting to put the change in a positive light.

I understand that changes can throw people off a bit at first, but I also think they help keep the world of Azeroth feeling alive. When there are fewer portals, does the world feel a bit bigger to you? Do you like that? How difficult is it to get to the locations you mentioned without a direct portal?

Bornakk’s comment alone drew nearly 500 direct replies, including this one from player Orctang:

Nope, just feels like travel is being time gated. If you want the world to feel bigger make bigger zones that are more alive.

And an excellent point made by forum contributor Synsha:

You opened numerous pandora’s boxes of convenience throughout various portions of the game and have built a community that relies on that convenience. Taking it away now is akin to shooting your own foot.

Build on what you’ve built… don’t tear out the base and expect the rest of the building to just… figure out how to stand up on it’s own. It’ll fall. As will your community.

In response to the overwhelming negative player feedback, Blizzard community manager Kaivax posted an extensive explanation of the developer’s decision.

In his post, Kaivax talks about attempting to balance conflicting design considerations. On one hand, the team doesn’t want to make the game too portal reliant. “Too many eliminations of the distances between places can diminish a sense of the world having a meaningful size,” Kaivax said. At the same time, Kaivax explained they don’t want to make travel to any location too inconvenient.

He also points out that removing portals is something that’s happened with the release of every expansion; it just never happened with Legion or Mists of Pandaria, and now the devs are playing catch-up.

With new expansions, we’ve made a tradition of removing some of the portals from the previous expansion’s cities. The goal with that is to encourage transportation flow through newer places where players are more likely to interact with other players. We neglected to do that initially following Legion (and we never did that following Mists of Pandaria for various reasons), but we feel that we should have. We’re correcting that now.

Kaivax ends his post by saying that the new changes are the direct result of feedback from players, and that “We believe that the numerous remaining means of quick access in the game make most locations quite reachable.” The post already has more than 3700 responses, many of them negative.

My favourite reactions to the portal controversy come by way of the World of Warcraft Reddit page, where user winner_in_patching is compiling a list of predictions for the “next unnecessary random change in WoW”. Here are a few.

  • After tirelessly listening to feedback on how the Open World is not dangerous, we have removed out of combat health regeneration. Fear not. Spending 8 hours at an inn will get you back on the sunny fields in Azeroth. (by CardinalM1)
  • Armour Rating now converted to Movement Speed Rating. Your movement speed is affected by how many armour pieces you wear. Your movement speed can be reduced to a maximum of one per cent and a minimum of 70 per cent. Cloth Armour users will have a combined Durability of 2 for all their pieces. Naked Players will gain a boost to their movement speed and also be entered in the monthly Transmog competition. (by sleepysnipersloth)
  • Flying mounts now get an exhaustion bar, rarity and levels. This is to ensure people enjoy the landscape instead of flying. (by Kremdes)
  • Trading now only works in major cities. With these changes we hope to make the world seem bigger, bringing players together and discourage giving others your rightfully earned loot. (by runnyyyy)

Fortunately, none of these player-suggested changes will be in update 8.1.5, which goes live on Wednesday, March 13.


Comments

    WoW always had one camp that wants to remove everything except ground mounts and another that believes you should be able teleport anywhere.

    I find most of the losses are ok, but I have to side with those who say removing the teleport to Karazhan and the Caverns of Time is stupid if not extremely annoying. CoT especially is a major source of transmorg since it houses multiple dungeons and raids.

      I don't think you should be able to teleport *everywhere* but being able to teleport from any capital to any other capital isn't game breaking. Especially when they're on whole different bloody continents.

      And this is even more important when you consider they keep having world events (like Lunar Festival, midsummer etc) that make you go to the old continents. Heck timewalking requires you to go to a number of old places the hand in the main quest. As do a number of quests that you pick up doing islands.

      The way they're making it I'll get a quest to go to say Pandaria and I'll have to go Org, then to Pandaria instead of just using a single portal I use two. But there's no actual game play in between. Nothing interesting. It's literally only time wasting.

      Frankly, I think the solution would have been to have a series of mage NPCs standing in central locations in the capitals that you can click on and they literally sell portals exactly like player mage can. Want to go from Dazar'alor to new Shatrah? Not a problem that's 5g or 50g or whatever.

        yea I don't disagree some of what they've come up with just makes no fking sense

        I mean continuing with Pandaria as an example, the Alliance portal goes to that village in Jade Forest... which is close to the timeless isles so yay timewalking? there's zero methods to go to the vale by the looks of things

        I imagine there's going to be an upswing in people asking for mage portals lol

      yeah Kara isnt to much of an issue for alliance at least its a quick flight from SW but feel bad for the horde on that one :( the only thing im annoyed at is the removal of the COT portal.

    I just think its absolute @*#!, because they are not removing any of the portals from the mages.

    Why does one class get a free ticket to everywhere, and everyone else has too endure loading screens and time wasted getting anywhere good.

    This just will mean more players will just abandon old content cause navigating the maze of transport options is not worth the time.

      or it will be like we used to and ask in trade chat for a mage portal. Not sure if you are having a laugh or being serious but mages have always, always had portals since vanilla.

    The changes are a direct result of feedback?

    Well, I for one would love to see the feedback asking for existing portals to be removed.

      I'm sure there were some players out there asking for these sort of changes (like 0.000001%) but I'll never understand why Blizzard keeps giving in to that minority when they're the people that are going to drop the game as soon as WoW Classic is out anyway.

        You're probably right.

        I love the idea of no flying mounts.. no non-mage portals etc. But then, I'd be the first to jump ship for classic.
        That was if current WoW hadn't already driven me away.

        At this point, they should just leave retail as the game it is.. or make it as anti-Classic as possible. This obviously resonates with a lot of people.

          I despise their take on non-flying. If they remove it completely I'll quit and never come back. And that's not an idle threat. It's bad enough that we're four months into the xpac and still no sign of flying coming any time soon.

          All of their reasons for removing or delaying conveniences (flight, portals, etc) come across as excuses for time wasting. As in they want players to spend more time doing *nothing*. I have no problem with exploring a continent on foot *once*. But after you've ridden the same path 57 times on the way to the same raid instance and you're not looking for quests, or admiring the scenery it's beyond a joke.

            I defitely hear you.

            Modern WoW is a very different game than classic. The things some of us love about Vanilla, EQ and OSRS don't resonate with a lot of players now.

            They should just give retail players what they want. They've already lost their fans who preferred the game staying as it was.

              As someone who has played since classic the problem is they take away the bits I liked about it not the bits I disliked.

              To be honest though when a game has so many players it's always going to resonate differently for them. The bits I like (or hate) wont be the same to you or someone else.

      I think if you ask the right questions you can get there. People want the world to feel alive and lived in rather than just having a bunch of hub cities and Blizzard take a lot of liberties with that request. They try to push people out into the larger world to stop it from feeling stagnant when they need to just accept that the larger world isn't the game. The game involves doing stuff and it's very rare for that stuff to involve slowly meandering around low level zones.
      In a lot of ways the game just got too busy to put up with catching boats around. Time is limited and the various lockouts and dailies linked to fun content makes the space between those things frustrating. People want the romantic idea of a World of Warcraft where everyone is out in the zones but they don't want to spend the little time they have online sitting around some random corner of the map /waving people instead of actually playing the game.

        I don't have a problem with being out in a zone doing stuff. The idea of world quests and emissary dailies is cool. But then they add in shit like islands where you're interacting with literally only two other people (maybe). But you know what, the longer it takes to get out to the world to do stuff, the less interested I am in actually doing it.

        If I could fly I'd literally smash every WQ every day because i wouldn't be wasting 3 minutes of travel time between each one. Similarly, if I can easily portal from capital to capital I'm much more likely to go do other stuff like pet battles or old raids/dungeons for xmog. Or just plain catch up on old quests I've missed somehow.

        So, TLDR version: if you want people out in the world doing stuff, make it easier and faster to get out in the world.

    A lot of the complaints are also coming from Blizzard doing the whole "we hear you, but we believe we're right anyway" thing again. Blizzard tends to not listen much to player feedback on their game mechanics and decisions.

      The problem is WoW fans are almost split down the middle with what the want the game to be nowadays.

      Which is honestly their own fault for designing the original game a certain way, then morphing it into something completely different over time.

      That's because it's hard to get portals working on mobile phones...

      That is pretty common and Necessary though. Players are good at identifying issues but terrible at solving them. Like if you went to a doctor you would say "my stomach hurts", not "I have appendicitis and you need to operate".

      They should listen but that doesnt mean the players are right or that what they clamour for is the best thing.

      Disclaimer: I haven't played WoW in 7 years so i dont have a horse in this race, just more commenting on psychology of gamers.

        That is a good point, and to take it even further often gamers want stuff that is actually detrimental to their game. You regularly see complaints on the WoW forums about not getting loot. In theory they could make every drop for each boss kill guaranteed every time. Kill the boss you get the awesome sword of awesome! But that removes the incentive to kill the boss again.

        Heck even some of the points they're making about the portal removal are valid. Forcing players to travel to areas rather than port directly does mean there are more people in the "world". However, I don't think they're actually engaged in the world. It's like the real world difference between going hiking and walking to work. In one your goal is the journey, in the other it's the destination.

    Whether it was a mistake or not to add the convenience in the first place doesn't matter because now it's going to feel incredibly inconvenient without those portals. Their inclusion made people go from thinking of riding through these zones as 'the way' to understanding that they're dull and lifeless regions of the game that fill in the empty spaces between what their trying to do.

      Their inclusion was the mistake (imo). But like you said I think it's beyond saving now.

      Those of us who want the original feel of the game will have classic soon enough.

        Yeeeeah... I'd say it is INCREDIBLY unlikely that some major quality of life changes will not make it into the so-called 'WoW Classic', things like group finder/matchmaking being a big one.

        I get a feeling a lot of people are in for very rude awakening when they discover it isn't going to be some exact copy of Vanilla WoW... And/or when they finally remember that vanilla WoW actually wasn't all sunshine and rainbows as they fondly recall it being.

          Vanilla wow was buggy af with not a great amount of end game. If it was launched as a new IP today it would be eaten alive.

          Huh?

          Many of us have been playing on wowservers like Nostalrius and Kronos for years.

          You're kidding yourself if you think they'll add LFG to classic.

          Anyway I'm tired of this argument. Retail and classic players are completely different. It's literally impossible for them to see eye-to-eye.

            thb meeting stones were a LFG tool since 1.3, but people forgot about it. We used to communicate through chat to find party members.

            I am annoyed as well from people like Kasterix saying: you think you knew, but you don't. Maybe blizzard removed the portals to give them a hint of that logic?

    Coming soon to the cash shop, Portal Anywhere Passes, only $15.95US a month gives you a 10 second cooldown hearthstone that allows you to select a destination at the time of casting, tradeable on the AH.

    How about ask a mage for a portal and give him a small tip? People don't communicate anymore in wow or that doesn't happen cause of the cross-faction-phasing BS?

    I can understand the frustration, they shouldn't take away things they gave to their community:
    "You opened numerous pandora’s boxes of convenience throughout various portions of the game and have built a community that relies on that convenience. Taking it away now is akin to shooting your own foot.

    Build on what you’ve built… don’t tear out the base and expect the rest of the building to just… figure out how to stand up on it’s own. It’ll fall. As will your community."

    Last edited 11/03/19 1:21 am

      How do you tip a mage with cross-faction zoning? You can't trade them gold or items unless they're on your own server.

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