Friday, October 05, 2007

WoW Trial

Well I played the free trial of World of Warcraft for a while today and I can honestly say that I’m impressed. While there is the occasional occurrence of online douchebaggery, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.

Of course, you will get the occasional ‘leet’ player being a smartass (leet in this context means “complete and total belief in the idea that playing a video game for 18 hours a day makes you ‘cool’”), but there’s enough checks and balances in the game to stop it getting in the way.

To be honest, the only thing I didn’t like was the fact that so many players can do the same quest on the same map at once. Most of the time this is a help rather than a hindrance, but it can be annoying.

For example, I made a Warrior character with my primary professions being mining and blacksmithing. I figured it would make things easier if I could make my own weapons and armor. However, on a couple of occasions I’d fight my way to a copper deposit, only to have some douchebag swoop in and mine it while I was finishing off the last bad guy.

That being said, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, players would ask if you were mining and leave the deposits you’d fought your way too, on more than one occasion I simply ‘took turns’ with a fellow player (I’d mine a deposit, he’d mine a deposit, etc, etc”.

This gameplay mechanic also allows you to form spontaneous teams even when you have different objectives.

For example, I met a mage going into a mine who was on a quest to kill a boss creature. I was just there to level and mine copper for the armor I was making. Long story short, we teamed up. I helped her get to the boss creature and she watched my back while I was mining.

In fact, I found the game to have a very fun and helpful atmosphere. More times than I could count someone would run past while I was fighting and cast a buff on me (restore your health, give you an armor boost etc.)

Obviously, like in all online games, there are idiots, but they actually seem to be in the minority. One guy apparently logged in to say that the server I was on was crap because it was loaded with ‘noobs’. What surprised me was that it didn’t deteriorate into a flame war. The closest I hear to an argument was someone saying “Welcome to my ignore list”.

The only time I noticed people being definitely unfriendly was in two instances, and in my opinion, both were justified. The first was a guy who spammed the chat, begging for someone to loan him money. The second was when people asked questions that were clearly explained in the manual, and they weren’t satisfied with the answers they got. IE:

“Where can I learn skinning?”

“Ask a guard.” (NPC guards will give you directions)


It seems that in WoW, getting a reputation as an idiot actually has consequences. One guy I talked to (who was very helpful, giving me advice on professions and which skills are the best to learn early on) told me that one guy joined and basically appeared to play just to annoy people. He told his guild, who told other guilds and so on and so forth until this guy couldn’t find a group to play in and no one would trade, craft or enchant anything for him until he basically had to go find another server.

The other big strength is that servers are split into three categories. ‘Normal’ which means there’s no PvP unless you both agree to duel. ‘PvP’ servers and ‘Roleplaying’ servers, where players ‘act out’ their characters. Basically, the people who play to ‘pwn bitches’ tend to stick to the PvP servers.

My only real problem with the game is that if you’re using a trial account, you can’t trade with other players or use the auction house. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but you’re pretty much required to trade with other players to progress.

For example, I wanted to make a copper claymore and needed 10 copper bars, 2 grinding stones, 2 weak flux and a piece of light leather. The first three were no problem. I mined the copper and the stone, bought the flux from a dwarf NPC…but the leather was a totally different story. No NPC’s sell it. Long story short, I was stuck until an enemy dropped one…which can take forever.

Basically, considering that the trial was marketed as giving you access to the full game for ten days, I was disappointed that they essentially crippled you by not allowing you to trade. Having to spend 8 hours killing things, hoping that one of them will eventually drop a piece of leather can be really annoying when you could just buy one from another player for 20 copper coins.

That being said, this is the trail version, so I wouldn’t let that reflect on the full game.

I think the best thing about WoW though, is the sheer scope of it. I started out and by the time I reached level 10 I felt like I was making real progress. My ‘recruit’ clothes were gone and I was wearing a full set of copper chain armor and had my pride and joy, my self-made Claymore strapped to my back. Then, as I was fighting a bad guy who had given me tons of problems (who I was finally strong enough to defeat), some guy walked up and killed him with a single blow, with a sword that was twice as big as I was.

Humbling. There’s lots of times this happens. Like when you’re having to walk a huge distance, and someone streaks past you on a stallion or flies over your head riding an eagle.

Basically, if you’ve never played, I’d definitely recommend downloading the free trial. It’s fun, there’s absolutely masses to do, a ton of different race, class and profession combos…and the douchebaggery is at a minimum.


OzzyC said...

Excellent review.

Vicarious Living said...

Now I actually want to take a look at it - thanks! Unless I get hooked, in which case, sarcastic thanks.

Paulius said...

Well, I've negotiated with Sunny to get a subscription as my christmas present, so I'll definitely be keeping it.

If you check out the trial, let me know. I'm on the Aerie Peak server.