I must be one of the few bloggers who hasn’t yet mentioned Archeology, but now that I’ve had an opportunity to start working on it I can start to offer a few opinions. I hadn’t followed any of the Beta news after I took my hiatus from WoW last fall, but when I came back for the Cataclysm launch I was as curious as everyone else and started pursuing Archeology with vigor. That didn’t last long as I quickly grew bored with it and hadn’t done anything more until quite recently. And in fact if it wasn’t for the Quraji Battle-tank mount and the achievement points I probably wouldn’t be bothering with it at all. And I think that’s as good a point to begin with any discussion of Archeology as any other.
Archeology is the new secondary profession that has been added with Cataclysm. However the current form of Archeology – and in fact the name of the profession itself – came mid-way through the Cataclysm development cycle, replacing the originally announced system called “Path of the Titans”. Path of the Titans was touted as an overarching glyph system in which players would gain progressive access to specific bonuses by choosing a specific path to follow, and would progress in some way similar to how Archeology works today. When Blizzard made the decision to drop Path of the Titans they cobbled together the gathering aspect of it with new rewards and introduced it purely as a solo-friendly mini-game and how a player perceives it depends on the players philosophical outlook.
If one looks at Archeology as just that, a solo-friendly mini-game (glass is half-full) there is undoubtedly hours of entertainment value to be had with incentive to travel to locations throughout the continent you’re currently on. There are a handful of interesting and quite useful rewards, though some of them are more useful to some than all. If one looks at Archeology as a true secondary profession (the glass is half-empty) you’ll probably look on it as a long grind. Especially if you’re trying to discover a specific reward. There’s also the issue in that some classes are able to get rewards that are directly useful, like Zin’rok, whereas other classes currently have no alternative. I can only assume that Blizzard will add new rewards over time that would rectify this.
It’s clear to me that Blizzard doesn’t intend Archeology to be leveled in one sitting. A random player would collect thousands of fragments in leveling to the cap and some untold number if they were trying to discover a specific reward. I pursue archaeology as a pastime, performing archeological discoveries while sitting in queues if I have nothing else pressing to do at the moment. But even then I usually don’t do more than 4-5 archeological visits at a time. It’s simply not that interesting, but I’ve decided that like fishing, if I do it in small doses it’s something I can do without issue every day. I can see Archeology becoming a greater part of WoW, but not in its current implementation which is exceedingly simplistic. With added complexity Blizzard could make Archeology a lead into greater understand of WoW lore and more closely tie it to expansions and activities therein. Whether Blizzard does that is a matter of vision and determination.