I dropped off the map last week due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and in no small part to my (lack of) MMO experiences on a laptop.
What I've done is cherry pick what I've put on the laptop so that there's a minimum of times where the thing is on and downloading a game throughout the night, so I've focused on installing the three big heavy hitters in our household: WoW, TOR, and LOTRO.*
Ironically enough, I've had an easier time slipping back into TOR than WoW, but that's because I've also been running without my mods. It's been since 2009 when I last ran WoW without any mods at all, and boy does it show.
I know some purists prefer the default WoW interface, and I used to think that I didn't need it much at all either, but boy do I miss Deadly Boss Mods (among others). I couldn't tell you the number of times I've been looking around for a timer in a BG only to remember that I don't have it installed. I've also made the declaration several times that "I'm going to install DBM no matter what the time of night is", only to forget it once the WoW session is over.
You'd think that means that I really don't miss mods all that much if I don't bother to put them in, right?
Well, sort of.
I think that dealing with the TOR interface has helped me immeasurably for this sort of situation. It's a flashback to the days when I was leveling Quintalan in Wrath: I'd level without mods, would get into an instance, and then learned the boss fights by watching for the in-game cues. DBM and the other mods were a godsend for the clueless** or people who were too busy watching their rotation. You didn't have to rely upon memory at all, but watch for the "Phase 2" or the "*Soul Storm*" to get your butt into the correct position. Knowing the position was up to you, of course, but it was easier to handle knowing the "when" to do it.
WoW sans mods is more than a mere throwback, it's also a rejection of the current state of the game. No serious raiding team will take you on if you don't have a requisite list of mods, those mods are absolutely essential to improving your efficiency to a proper raiding/PvP level. You can demonstrate your skill all you want, but nobody will believe that you have the commitment to be a "serious" raider without them.
I could survive without any mods, but I realize that I can't perform at peak efficiency without them. Even WoW's game design has taken into account the variety of mods out there; do you honestly think that the Arthas and Deathwing fights were designed for a player without any mods at all? Of course they weren't; they were designed as a challenge, and when all of the best raiders are running heavily modded interfaces, that has an impact on the boss fight.
It's perhaps a chicken and egg scenario, but in its present state WoW is a mod driven game. Even the controversial mods, such as Healers Have to Die or
GearPlayerScore, have pushed the game in different directions. For example, Blizz has taken PlayerScore, simplified it into the current gear rating, and incorporated it heavily into the game. The old "go to Dal Fountain for GS check" has been replaced with "minimum ### gear rating required".
If you could scan a prospective raiding partner for currently used mods, would you? Perhaps you might say that's too much intrusion into a player's personal preferences. Maybe you might say that it's not needed; "skill trumps gear" as the saying goes, and the same ought to go for mods. But if you were a raid leader and you could, just how great would that temptation be?
And would you like what you saw, without having seen the player in action?
*And Civ IV and LEGO Star Wars III. I pretty much had to install Civ IV Complete, and the kids like LEGO Star Wars III for the battleground games.
**You'd be a "noob no more" as Soul once put it.