On random days at random hours, you might see a purple bird flash out of the sky to drop a contraption that looks like a stoplight on sticks. When Archeology came with Cataclysm it was low on my priority list of fun activities. Professions tend to be shelved and worked on sporadically as I level, and since I would have to start from the bottom, I didn’t even bother to find my trainer until I’d been 85 for awhile and had some heroics under my belt. As I was fishing up my food for the week (out of the ocean because they don’t hang out like the cool kids having fishing pool parties) I realized that I had yet to try out the newest profession, the one that had piqued my interest the most, and had actually sounded like a really awesome thing to do.
I’ll admit, I set myself up for disappointment. Because I generally sheltered myself from all the news, I didn’t actually have much of a clue how archeology was intended to work. Instead, I had a fuzzy notion based on the some tiny mote of information that had drifted into my concsiousness that ran like this:
Explore ruins. Create items. Learn lore.
Does that describe WoW archeology? Yeeeessss. Does it match up with what I imagined WoW archeology to be? Oh, hell no!
You don’t stumble onto dig sites, root through memoirs in dwarven homes in Loch Modan, or even find clues to those famous statues that have been sticking out of Ashenvale’s forests for the last 6 years of the game. Instead, you open up your handy map and find a big ol’ shovel that should have a note next to it saying “DIG HERE!” We won’t even get into how crappy the triangulation equipment works, although Naithin sure does. Once you find your shards, you travel to some completely unrelated site and do the whole digging thing again, and after doing this a few times, you eventually end up with some piece of fluff that tells you… well, nothing. You’ve got an artifact that generally has no history, and just a general write-up about what it is… but not it’s significance.
Let’s break it down. Exploring. Well, you’re not really exploring, you just mount up on your big ol’ dragon and fly across the continent. If you’re really unlucky, you might even have to bludgeon off a hostile creature to line up your telemetry equipment just right. Most of the time, I don’t even bother to do the flying myself, I find the nearest flightmaster and have his birdie do all the hoofing while I read a book or do some chatting on IM. There’s not a lot of sense of discovery in finding the flaming red blob on my map. To me, exploration is something you do from the ground. In my little heart of hearts, I wanted an excuse to go tromping around on my kodo mount looking for sparkles in out of the way places — all those nooks and crannies that are left unexplored in our criss-crossing of the zone to complete quests.
As far as the item creation is concerned, I don’t have many complaints. The crap doesn’t take up too much room in my bags, and the interface is usable if not especially as friendly as I’d like.
However, I have some major issues with the “lore” I’ve learned so far in my archeology pursuits. Here’s some of my favorite examples.
|That Azshara was the most beautiful of night elves is practically regarded as fact. Unfortunately, her own eye for beauty seems to have been as limited as that of many of her brethren, at least judging from the garish colors of this gown. ‘There has only ever been, only ever will be… one Azshara.’|
|‘If there’s one thing dwarves love, it’s drinking. And fighting. Two things.’This cup may have belonged to a minor noble or wealthy merchant. It’s heavy enough to bash in someone’s brains, and residue suggest it may have been used for just that.|
|At first you thought they were petrified. But no, they are just really crusty.|
While there’s some amusement value in these items, as far as shedding light on the lore of the game, it’s rather slim. Probably the favorite piece I’ve collected that actually does so is the Druid and Priest Statue Set, which while brief, explains the change in gendered roles in Night Elf society.
Unlike many of the items in the game, which are by limited by a tooltip interface, archaeology has an entire “tablet” of space provided for each item, yet often, the items have little more information than could have been provided in a tooltip. Can I take my findings to the local library and dig up some of my own history to go along with my finds?
Despite the issues I have, I still play the archeology game from time to time. It’s a great time sink when chatting with friends, or when I’m not 100% in game. I can whack out a dig site, jump on a taxi, and go back to washing clothes or reading my text. However, the profession didn’t meet my expectations. I know that I could have read more about the profession and how it would work to save myself some disappointment.
Yet I also wonder, based on your earliest introduction to the archeology profession whether you were happy with how it has turned out, or whether you expected something different.