MMOs have been a dominant subcategory of gaming since their inception. The concept of a living breathing world in which the players interact is something dreamed of since works of science fiction started to conceptualize on how they would manifest. MMOs provide an escape from the realities and trappings of perhaps the mundane lives we can lead and provides a world of majesty in which players slay dragons and all sorts of beasts. Chief among these titles is Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. Borrowing heavily from the lore of the popular series of RTS games, it seems to have completely overshadowed the work it is based on.
Upon a player’s entry into the World of Warcraft, they’re given the options to make their own avatar, options are limited somewhat due in part to the outdated interface of the game, but from that very first screen and quest line it has the potential to become a much grander experience in terms of gaming than what most players have taken in.
In the higher levels of play the need for cooperation and companionship become more evident, tackling the larger beasts and dungeons takes on an epic feel as you are but a part of a mighty force. Likewise, the Player versus Player battlegrounds become nasty melees as players rush for objectives and succumb to the carnage in the fronts. In other words, this isn’t a game to be played alone.
The graphical prowess of such a limited engine is beginning to show its age, especially in light of more recent releases like Champions Online and Guild Wars 2 on the horizon. However, much like the old saying goes, you can’t really judge a book by its cover. WoW has depth beyond what a normal online game may have. The economy is almost purely player driven, discounting the few shops and the like that are driven by NPCs. For the most part these are ignored, being merely a place to unload junk that’ll sell nowhere else. Rare armors and weapons, materials for crafting, and even mounts are widely available via an economy that stinks of pure capitalism in virtual form. Part of the fun for me perhaps came in gathering materials and undercutting rival sellers. Coupled with the cavalier nature of the raids and battlegrounds and it makes you feel as though you’re a baron in a fantastic land where merely the strongest and most skilled of combatants survive.
If a player were to enter into WoW today, some six years since its release, they’d be taken aback by just how much material there is to the game. The cities are enormous, filled to the brim with players on most servers and it shows no sign of slowing down in the least.
The game itself is time consuming and rather addictive, which being something that is pay to play makes said model of gameplay all the more consuming. When you feel as though you have to play x number of hours to eke out even the tiniest shred of your worth from a game, you can tell the honchos behind the scenes are doing a great job at generating revenue. A few negatives are the slavering idiots that seem to compose some aspects of the community and the poor focus on customer support from Blizzard themselves. Not to mention if you’re unlucky enough to have your account compromised, which with the casual player is a rather real danger, it is in their power to close the account permanently. This is regardless of your investment into the game, all that money and time is just flat out gone.
I’ve since stepped away from the pull of WoW, I’m a young man still wanting to do the things that lead to me being an old man. But the time I’ve spent in WoW is something I could easily recommend to any gamer. Call of Duty and Halo are always going to have some sort of sway in the market, but after shooting your nine millionth poor sap in the face it doesn’t really seem to have anything beyond that. For something unique, albeit a seeming cliche, the World of Warcraft poses many an enticing prospect.
Give yourself a shot at it with a ten day trial if you want to see what I mean. But be careful, the first taste is always free as they say.