World of Warcraft
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World of Warcraft Overview
Ever since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft (WoW for short) has been the golden standard of the MMORPG genre. With a heavily quest-driven progression system and simple gameplay, WoW appeals to a large audience. The cartoony graphics may at first deter players but after some play time, they come to life and truly immerse players into the world of Azeroth. In WoW, players of all classes can easily progress alone but must work together to complete instanced dungeons that reward the best pieces of equipment. This style has helped World of Warcraft remain popular across the world and it continues to attract casual and hardcore gamers alike. Those familar with the Warcraft series will recognize the locations and important NPCs featured in WoW. Players can do battle with Illidian, visit the Orc’s capital of Orgrimmar, or explore parts of the world only hinted at in previous Warcraft titles. But before anything else, players must chose which of the two factions they wish to join — the Horde or the Alliance.
Though World of Warcraft has had multiple expansions, all players now have access to the game plus all expansions, from The Burning Crusade to Mists of Pandaria, as part of the game’s purchase. Warlords of Draenor, the game’s latest expansion, must be purchased individually to access content from level 90 to 100.
Alliance - Humans, Gnomes, Night Elves, Dwarves, Draenei, Worgen, Pandaren
Horde - Orcs, Trolls, Undead, Tauren, Blood Elves, Goblins , Pandaren
Druid - The most versatile class. Druids are effect support characters but can also call upon their feral nature and shapeshift into powerful beasts.
Hunter - The archer class of WoW, Hunters prefer to attack from a distance and lay traps. Hunters can tame beasts and fight in melee range when the need arises.
Mage - Masters of the elemental arts, Mages have high damage potential but suffer from low defense.
Paladin - Holy warriors who can wear plate but can also cast supportive spells to aid their allies in battle.
Priest - The main supportive class in WoW. Priests have the most powerful healing spells but can also inflict heavy damage with shadow related spells.
Rogue - The premier melee damage class. Rogues can dish out a lot of hurt in a short period of time but suffer from lower defense and health compared to other melee classes.
Shaman - In touch with the spirit world, Shaman’s use totems to channel energy towards those around them — be they friend or foe. Shamans are a hybrid class capable of both melee and magic attacks.
Warlock - Sinister spell casters who use the diabolical arts to summon demons to serve them. Warlocks learn curses and DoTs that weaken and damage their opponents.
Warrior - The primary melee fighter and tank. Warriors in WoW can do much more than absorb damage, properly trained they are capable of inflicting heavy damage.
Death Knight - The first ‘Hero Class.’ Introduced in the Lich King expansion, Death Knights start the game at level 55.
Monk – Released with Mists of Pandaria, the monk class is a hybrid that is capable of powerful tanking, melee DPS, and melee-healing.
World of Warcraft Screenshots
World of Warcraft Featured Video
Warlords of Draenor Beta Impressions
By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Back To The Past And Back Again
The fifth expansion of the World of Warcraft franchise is a truly interesting experience so far. There have been many ups and downs in the series, and the fans as always are divided. There are some that feel that this game feels more like “Vanilla” (the original game before expansions.). There are some who say the game is getting easier yet again, and “made for casuals.” Ultimately, the game is made first and foremost for the fans. Everyone will be able to get something out of Warlords of Draenor, much like all the other expansions before it. Currently, WoD is in closed beta. What I experienced in this build was an early portion of the game, offering content through Frostfire Ridge for the Horde and Shadowmoon Valley for the Alliance, as well as the dungeon in both zones.
There are many changes coming in the WoD expansion, and perhaps they are a long time in coming. I have to say, I’m terribly excited. I spent most of my time in Mists of Pandaria idle. It felt too much like I was playing Harvest Moon, doing chores and nothing but daily quests. Will daily quests be a part of Warlords of Draenor? Absolutely. Of this I am one hundred percent certain. But now a lot of them will no doubt revolve around my Garrison; a zone that I control and develop over the course of the expansion, where I can send minions out to farm and try to get loot for me. This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in an MMO, and while it sort of reminds me of the minions in Star Wars: The Old Republic, it gives me a base of operations. There are dissenters that think this is going to make the game easy-mode, but I do not think such will be the case. There are going to be insane challenges and new PVP excitement going on, in a sandbox with vehicles, bases, and chaos! From the Toy Box (trinkets and fun items available globally), to the Heirloom Collection, the folks at Blizzard are making items you have scattered across all of your characters easy to grab, so no more mailing over and over, or being annoyed that one tabard is on a character you never play. Making items easy to access does not make the game “Carebear” or super easy.
Technical Like The Sharpshooter
There is so much going on in this expansion that without some prior knowledge it could be overwhelming. To the casual player, it won’t be quite such a big deal. The casual player will jump into Draenor head-first, excited to see everything the game has to offer. One of the largest changes, and one that is getting a great deal of attention, is the stat squish. At the end of Mists of Pandaria, it was not uncommon to see 15,000 strength, agility, et cetera. In fact, that’s probably on the low end of the spectrum. Gone are the days of Warlocks having one million health, and dealing 500,000 dps (damage per second). The damage squish is a necessity, to bring some manner of excitement back to the game. The stats were simply getting too high, and it was less about being careful in raids, and more about dealing insane amounts of burst damage to end boss fights faster and faster.
Stats are getting a huge change as well. There are stats that are going away forever (much to my joy and elation) such as Hit. Hit, Expertise, Dodge, and Parry are gone. There are other stats that are coming in, to add “fun” to the game, something to add variety to the game in general. The new stats can seem a little bulky, with how many there are, but they can all be useful in the right situations. The following is an example of some of these “secondary stats.” Without bombarding you with statistics, some of the things you can look forward to are “Chance Multistrike” (A chance to add two extra attacks or heals with your abilities), “Readiness” (Reduces certain cooldowns; this will be fairly rare), and Versatility (increases damage and healing by x% and reduces incoming damage by x%). I like all of these new stats a great deal. I desperately hated having to stack certain stats that weren’t str, int, etc and these new upcoming stats will add some variety to builds to be sure.
Speaking of stats and itemization, equipment is changing in a new and exciting way. One of the problems with questing in earlier expansions was that many items would not always have major stats that benefitted your character on any of the rewards. If you were a Holy Paladin and post level 40, the odds of you finding plate with stats relevant to you were rare at best. In WoD equipment drops such as quest rewards will have stats that fit your character specifically. Gone are the days of desperately hunting through quests just to find one piece of gear that “might” fit your character. However, this will only affect new pieces of equipment; while it would be nice to see this at lower levels of the game, for now it is only found on Draenor. This will make it much easier for players to level and find items that suit their needs, instead of hoping and praying a random blue or green will benefit them at all.
One of the biggest selling points to Warlords of Draenor so far is the Garrison. Garrisons are a place your character can call home, somewhere unique to them; it is a part of the world and grows as you invest time in it. This is Blizzard’s answer to other MMOs that have player housing. There is a spot for a Garrison in each of the new zones, and you can choose which zone you want yours to be in. The only exceptions would be in the Alliance/Horde controlled territory, one would assume you could not build a Horde Garrison in Shadowmoon Valley and vice-versa. Garrisons have followers that are essentially minions to do your bidding, which I could go on all day about how much I love that. They build structures and seek epic gear for your character which has seen a little heat. There have been players that have complained that it will make the game a little too easy, but I disagree. It will be nice to have another option to maybe pick up an upgrade that will let you enter raids/heroics faster.
UI? Don’t Mind If I Do!
Tons of things going on in the UI Department! One of the biggest changes comes from a need for visibility. When there are tons of players around, it can be very hard to see what you are hovering over, or what NPC you need to click on/interact with. In fact, there are players that will stand in NPCs just to make life difficult, or force PVP interaction. Now important objects are highlighted, such as buildings you are going to interact with (Garrison Forge) or Quest NPCs. Highlighted objects will have a particular glow, depending on what they are in relation to you. Another function that needs brief mentioning is the Auction House. It is getting an overhaul and will now be universal, so Alliance and Horde will share auctions. This is something that makes sense; the Auction House is run by goblins, who are neutral and only speak the language of money. So it is only natural that Auction Houses can be accessed by both sides, since goblins hold all of the items and the money.
Do you find yourself leveling alts often and hate juggling all of your heirlooms? I know I do! Sure you can mail them across servers and faction to your characters, but that can be very hard to keep track of. With WoD, there is now the heirloom collection. In Warlords of Draenor you will be able to keep all of your Heirloom items in one collection tab that is accessible on all of your characters, so you do not have to worry about all of the juggling, and mailing, and all of that tedious crap that made leveling multiple alts nothing but an exercise in frustration and futility. This is not in-game as of the current build, but it is something to look forward to in a content patch. There are a lot of collection tabs we should be able to look forward to, reducing the amount of stuff in our bags. Void Storage will get more item slots, and that will be nice. I hope that they will remove the gold fee to insert and remove, but I fear that is just wishful thinking. Banks will have a sorting system, which I am truly excited for. I am incredibly anal in how I sort my inventory, and this will make things a lot easier on me, again, without installing a mod for it. The ability to craft from the bank is another Godsend that I am excited for; no longer do I need to run to the bank, drag out all of the items, and return them. This is probably the biggest change to the item UI.
The Quest UI is going to get a bit of an overhaul as well to make certain things on your quest list stand out a little more. The goal is to clearly separate which quests are a part of the major storyline for the zone or the overall game and keep them apart from the optional side quests. This can help acquire achievements for a zone, and know what to shoot for if you are seeking the main story. The Adventure Guide is another in-game feature along the line of questing to help players. It will show players potential paths to new gear upgrades, quests that suit the playstyle that they are utilizing, et cetera. This is an exciting new upgrade to the game, which will benefit new players and veterans alike. It can possibly reduce the amount of alt-tabbing and searching websites for new targets and I really dig that.
You Are Not Prepared
With Warlords of Draenor, we are heading to an all-new world – Draenor, birthplace of the Orcs, and the last bastion of the Draenei, formerly of the planet Argus. For a fantasy game, there sure is a lot of space travel going on from the Burning Crusade expansion onward. Some of Draenor is going to feel familiar as the desolate wastes of Outland. The flora and fauna are beautiful, and one of the examples of sights to see is an untouched, uncorrupted Shadowmoon Valley (the first zone the alliance members experience after starting quests.) There are two new major cities: Karabor for the Alliance, and Bladespire Fortress for the Horde, but these are not the major capitals. Those will be located on the island of Ashran, which is near the Dark Portal.
The cities on Ashran will also be cross-realm, and are not a part of World PVP from what I have read. The new capitals as of this writing are not accessible and have no names. There has been a great deal of backlash in this decision, as originally Karabor and Bladespire Fortress were the capitals for their factions. I really liked the idea of the untarnished Black Temple (re: Karabor) being a major hub for players. This was a fantastic idea, and it is my sincere hope that Blizzard changes their mind again, instead of keeping it as-is. Some of these zones will visually feel familiar since this is unbroken-Outland, and the nomenclature won’t be too far off to boot.
Another visual update is the player races. The races that were released with Mists and Cataclysm (Panderen, Goblins, Worgen) will not be changing as they have current models that look just fine. Everything else however are in desperate need of an overhaul and are getting just that. All of the character models are not in the present build of the game, but rest assured they will be available by the time the game drops later this year. The characters have more physical expressions, and a great deal of time has been taken to make the players feel and look more like heroes than ever before. Up until now, I have felt that my characters blend into the background unless I have truly end-game gear. I looked much the same as the enemy and neutral NPCs, without anything to make me stand out. Unless I were hanging out with enemy Blood Elves, who for some reason are nine feet tall. I’m very excited to see more of this to be sure.
The world itself looks beautiful to boot as an aside. There is less clutter on the ground and at the same time, more detail is given to the world, and it is surprising to be able to call the barren wasteland of Frostfire Ridge beautiful, but it is. Shadowmoon Valley looks very reminiscent of Warcraft 3 in its violet hues and thick forest. The game has honestly never looked better. The starting zone of Tanaan Jungle is interesting and starts the story off right, with action and excitement. Both factions start here, but they do not interact with one another, as it is sort of an instanced zone where only your faction can go and complete quest objectives. After the story progresses to the point where you leave, players wind up in their respective zones, and it’s time to get to work!
I will avoid spoilers for the story, but it starts strong, though I feel like the starter quests on both sides are strikingly similar; this is not a bad thing, since if they are not, the community, being what it is will no doubt complain about bias or unfairness since one faction “might” have an easier quest. I also got to experience the dungeon in Frostfire, and in Shadowmoon Valley. The difficulties between the two were very noticeable. The mechanics required in the Shadowmoon dungeon stood out as much more precise and challenging, and it really felt like a level 100 dungeon. The Frostfire dungeon however was set for lower levels and it showed. I felt like we mowed through the instance with a vigorous speed, whereas the Alliance dungeon found many wipes from missing one or two little things on a boss fight. Though the Horde dungeon was done with an incredibly geared Retribution Paladin so I do admit there was that to my credit.
Speak, Friend: Excitement abound!
Current State of the Expansion – Excellent
I feel like this expansion will not feel like a flash in the pan such as the two before it. I did not feel much excitement toward, nor did I feel drawn into the story of, Mists of Pandaria. It was a beautiful island but the story was frankly kind of boring. I didn’t really feel emotionally vested. But Warlords of Draenor, despite being a time-travel wacky adventure, feels like a call back to the old days of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, and the early days of the MMO. There are so many positive things coming to this expansion that I could not possibly cover it all. But there are a few negatives to speak of. The Toy Collection seems to be very “pick and choose” by the devs to what is a “toy” and what is not. The other thing that really stands out to me is that the Horde and the Alliance start very segregated. Even the starting zone, Tanaan Island is a separate zone for the Horde and for the Alliance, and then they go to their separate zones across the map. I will grant, starting on a PVP server at the beginning of the expansion can be infuriating with the constant ganking, but this feels a little too easy, like I’m getting off lucky. And anyone who knows my career in Warcraft, “luck” isn’t a word I equate to it. Perhaps this will change in a later build or perhaps not. I’m still very positive about this expansion, and I look forward to seeing how things progress.
World of Warcraft Review
By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Opinions, Opinions Everywhere
Everyone has an opinion about World of Warcraft. Everything from “It’s complete garbage,” “Vanilla was better lol,” “Best game of all time!” and so on. I am in a difficult position in that while I have played the game since the original “Vanilla” World of Warcraft (before the expansions), my personal thoughts will be broadcast throughout the internet, for good or for ill. I am not here to hoist Blizzard’s creation above all things, but there are good and bad things to be said for the game, and while it may not be for everyone, Blizzard has made a game that is for “most” people. While it is not the best MMO, or even my favorite of those on the current market (That spot belongs to Final Fantasy XIV, without question) it certainly holds a lot of fond memories for me. That is not to say that I wear nostalgia goggles while I play. There are lots of things that made the game incredibly frustrating for me, and no doubt, for other players. Unlike several of my close friends, I do not have a host of level 90s. I have an overwhelming tendency to get distracted, or disinterested with a playstyle, and try something else. I also have to take this time to thank Seamus McCarthy, and Courtney Jackson for providing the additional Alliance screenshots for me. Many thanks, you two!
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft was born out of a PC series of strategy games called Warcraft. It began with Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, and then we had Warcraft 2: Tides of War, and then its expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal. Finally, we had Warcraft 3, which expanded the war beyond just Orcs and Humans. Now we have the Undead, Night Elves, Orcs, and Humans. Warcraft 3 also added “Hero” units, more powerful people, born of the lore, that shaped the world. This was just another step towards the MMO. And now we have it. November 2004 changed the way we viewed MMOs forever. Before World of Warcraft, we had other MMOs. WoW was neither the first, nor the last MMO; before it came EverQuest, Ultima Online, MUDs (Multi User Dungeons), and Final Fantasy XI, just to name a few. WoW took the best parts of its competitors, and made them its own. Blizzard cunningly set up a system that was easy to get into and would grow more and more challenging to master as the years went on. Two primary factions were duking it out for control of the world of Azeroth: The Human Alliance, and the Orcish Horde. Each side has its own races, with their own classes they can use. Let’s start with a bit of an overview on the game itself:
Class and Caste
World of Warcraft is divided into two factions, which have their own unique races. The Alliance is made up of the Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, and Gnomes originally. In the Burning Crusade, the Draenei showed up to aid the humans, and during the Cataclysm, the Worgen came forth. The Orcish Horde has the Orcs, Undead, Tauren, and Trolls. The Blood Elves and Goblins came forth at the same time that the Draenei and Worgen appeared. Lastly we have the Pandaren; they are a neutral race which only changes at the end of the zone where you pick a side to stand with. Personally, I was always a fan of the Horde. I prefer their version of the lore over the Alliance. I would rather strength and honor, over the vaunted justice of the Alliance.
The classes themselves have changed constantly over the years the game has been played. The balancing has not always been fair or correct from my personal point of view, but it is there, and the staff at Blizzard do their best to keep it enjoyable for all. Originally, the Alliance had Warriors, Druids, Rogues, Mages, Priests, Warlocks, Hunters, and Paladins (Alliance-Only). The Horde had Warriors, Druids, Rogues, Mages, Priests, Warlocks, Hunters, and Shaman (Horde-Only). For balance purposes, the opposing faction were given the unique classes and later still we would see the Death Knight hero class, and Monks, which are available to both sides as well. Each class has three sets of specializations, which vary from class to class. Each one has a purpose, from the myriad of damage types like Rogue and Warlock, to the all-purpose Druids and Paladins, who have a Tank, Healer, and DPS tree to assist in whichever position they are needed.
Initially, there were three trees with dozens of talents that a player could take. They were specialized, in that Paladins would have Holy (healing), Protection (tanking), and Retribution (damage). These talent points could be spent in any tree, allowing a great deal of customization, but also a great deal of confusion could be garnered from this. As time progressed, the changes went to the talent system over and over, making it more and more general. Now the class talents are broad and generic, with the main abilities of the class being based on what specialization you choose. There was a time where you could take some of those abilities with some careful juggling, and have a vast array of skills and abilities. In the current iteration of the game, this has become standardized, even simplified.
This is a rather unfortunate turn of events. One of the more interesting things about the talent system was the ability to do virtually anything. Now the class trees are more akin to bushes. Abilities are cut off based on what path you choose and I have not felt that many of the talent choices I made were particularly useful one way or another. There are choices that make or break a specialization but far and wide they do not make a lot of difference in the long run.
Grand Central Ganktion
Look, they can’t all be winners. I do the best with what I can. PVP has been a part of the game since its inception, and for better or worse, it has always been a large part of the game. Not everyone is interested in the lore, or end-game content. Large portions of the player base are people who just like to PVP, and gain a great deal of enjoyment in being as good as they can possibly be at it, joining Blizzard’s PVP tournaments at any opportunity. PVP comes in several flavors, for people that want to do it in different ways. For those who are on PVP servers (such as myself), you can kill an opposing faction member anywhere you find them, except in the rare sanctuaries that exist. This can be a lot of fun, but more often than that, it can be a terrible trial, being ganked constantly by players several levels above you. New expansions on a PVP server, especially if your side is not dominant, can be an absolute nightmare. I personally died sixteen times trying to complete a quest during Cataclysm’s opening days.
For those not keen on that, Player vs. Environment or Roleplaying servers may be a better idea. There are of course, RP-PVP servers, for those who wish to be violent and PK (player kill), while enjoying potentially in-depth roleplaying. For those who prefer structured player versus player combat, there are several options, and each iteration of the game comes with more. These are not always balanced, or fair. A prime example is the battleground of Alterac Valley. This is a 40 vs. 40 player battle with the Frostwolf clan doing battle with the Stormpike. The map is huge, and there are many things to do to turn the tide to your side. But the most important thing to see, at least from the Horde side, is the Horde base is incredibly easy to get into. The Alliance base has one way in, along a bridge, guarded by towers. It is terribly slanted towards their defense.
There are a variety of PVP challenges, though. Each has their own amount of players and objectives. From Arathi Basin’s 15 on 15, where the objective is to hold a series of five choke points and gain resources, to Burning Crusade’s entry, Eye of the Storm, in which the goal is to hold several points while gaining bonus points by delivering a flag from the center of the map to one of your held towers. Choke points are popular on several of these maps. One of the originals is still one of the best: Warsong Gulch. Warsong is a 10 vs. 10 capture the flag style battle. There are minor imbalances in the PVP battlegrounds but all in all they are very enjoyable. If there is a tie, and the other side is feeling surly, they can fort up and wait the timer out so nobody wins, which can be a real downer after playing fifteen minutes.
Truth as Hard as Steel
For those of you who want their PVP to be a little more direct and small-time, there are the Arenas. The Arena offers 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 combat, and although you can no longer randomly queue up for it, it is nonetheless very much a part of how the PVP scene in World of Warcraft works. Each arena itself has its own layout and physical advantages to make use of, whether they are pillars, hills, or water traps to lay in wait in. These matches tend to be a bit faster than the battlegrounds, but that does not make them suddenly more balanced. While a great deal of video games have an eSports (Electronic Sports) following, World of Warcraft really does not. Perhaps that is because there is a great deal of imbalance in the game; or maybe Blizzard simply keeps a tight hold upon it. There are arena tournaments, but they are typically held at very large game expos, or at Blizzard events, such as Blizzcon. Sadly, there is still no word of a Spectator mode to view some of these amazing pitched arena battles.
There are two factors that create a problem with PVP: gear and class abilities. Anyone can get gear, in theory. Playing long enough will get you enough points to get PVP gear, or with gold these days, you can buy crafted blue (rare) PVP gear to use to get a start. Class powers, however, make it a much different beast. Some classes have very obvious advantages over others, despite what build they take: druids, for example. With their ability to shapeshift, it is nigh-impossible to pin one down with crowd control abilities. They can simply pop form, and get out of it. Some of their shapes are even immune to other shapeshifting abilities, like Mage’s Polymorph. They can also CC in any form, or swiftly shape out to one, cast a power, and shift again, making them very hard to deal with. Then there are Rogues. The old argument in trade chat was that Rogues are only built for PVP. They do lots of DPS (Damage per second) and have a great deal of single target burst damage, but they have fewer utilities for raiding and dungeons, unlike other classes. However, Rogues in PVP are horrifying. Having one on your team can be crucial with their plethora of abilities to slow, stun, blind, or disorient enemies.
All classes have some manner of control for players or mobiles, but Rogues and Druids do it better than anyone else. There are a variety of team compositions you can implement, and they will virtually always have a place upon them. These days, PVP gear and abilities have become so proliferate that people advertise wins for gold on trade chat, or people beg for carrying through PVP arena matches for gold or even real money! Things like this ruin the integrity and hard work that people who make PVP the basis on which they play less valuable. There is nothing wrong with someone on the team having far more skill than the others, but when you are paying for someone to carry you for a title or a mount, or even gear, there is something to be said about that. And I fear that it isn’t good.
Progress, ‘til There’s Nothin’ Left to Gain
The name of the game ultimately is still PVE content. As a solo player, you progress through the game by completing quests and gaining XP, then completing dungeons in a five man group to get to the point where you can do raid content. XP gains vary by level, and can be affected by multiple factors. Being a part of a high-level guild gets you perks such as increased movement speed and increased XP. Then, for people who have level 90 characters, and some gold to spend, there are “Legacy” pieces of equipment, or BOAs (Bind-on-account). These pieces can be mailed between characters, and even servers, and level up as you do, granting bonus experience gains. In addition, later expansions reduced the amount of XP to hit the next level, effectively speeding up the leveling process. Blizzard most likely realized that there were lots of players with alts who wanted to hit higher level content faster, and the old leveling system amounts were large and could be terribly daunting.
Dungeons are scattered throughout the world, instanced zones where five people group up and complete certain requirements, such as gathering items, but ultimately, killing bosses. There are generally quests in these places that give more XP than normal, and sometimes very nice pieces of equipment. Each boss drops a piece or two of equipment, generally rare or better, that players roll on based on a need versus greed system. People who cannot equip a piece cannot need, eliminating the abilities for people to ninja (steal) loot quite so easily.
And this leads us to Raids. Raids are end-game content, where groups of people team up to fight overwhelmingly powerful bosses. These are longer and more challenging than normal dungeons (unless you count Upper Blackrock Spire, or Blackrock Depths, which take a nightmarish eternity). In vanilla WoW, these were 40 man affairs that were generally poorly organized, and very few people actually attained loot. With an average of three to four pieces of loot per boss, this could lead to frustration for people going week after week, spending three hours a few nights a week to these events and getting nothing. While part of the thrill is the challenge of succeeding, the actual goal is to get better gear to do harder dungeons.
As a player, I have always enjoyed raiding, and it is one of my primary interests in the game, but it is not for everyone. One of my closest friends and his wife play not to raid, but to simply enjoy the game and see the world. For those types of players, raiding will likely hold no interest, nor will they want to group with other players to try and tackle these challenges. There is nothing wrong with this; after all, they pay for the game and can enjoy it however they see fit. But raiding week after week with no tangible rewards (achievements, loot, etc), can just be draining.
But for those who want to raid, no longer do you even have to be in a guild to at least see and enjoy content! There is a new system in place, called “Looking for Raid” and “Flex Raids”. LFR can be accessed via a menu, where you click what role you wish to take in the raid, and which raid content you wish to do. You do not do the entire raid, but instead, a wing of one (say, three to four bosses). Flex Raids are for people that do not necessarily have the group of people to do a normal sized raid. The difficulty scales for the amount of people you have (between 10-25). However, in Warlords of Draenor (the upcoming expansion), this will replace 10-25 man separate raids. This can be unfortunate for achievement hunters, who want two sets of achievement points, but it will make raiding easier. Perhaps a bit too easy.
Time Sinks, Man
But you cannot raid and PVP all day! There has to be other content to do. As you can probably see, I do not do a lot of pet battling. I am aware that if I start, I will probably sink far too much time into it, and I have lots of other things to do with my day! But, there are plenty of things to do in WoW that are both positive and negative. Pet Battling is new to the game, and you can finally use all of those vanity pets you have acquired for something. It is a battle system similar to Pokemon, where you level your pets and pitch them in turn-based battles against other NPCs or players. This was, I think, a fantastic idea, and allows for a time sink that is not terribly expensive on a monetary standpoint, but can be a lot of fun spending time flying around the world, trying to find the rarest and coolest looking pets. I personally have some pretty fancy ones, and they are calling me to battle. . .
Then there are achievements. The Xbox 360 made achievements mainstream, and gamers as a whole began hunting them with voracity, always trying to one-up their friends. This has an effect of people playing/spending more money, if for no other reason than to outdo someone else. While I have a decent amount of achievement points, I am not the highest out of my friends (I’m looking at you, Biral, Mr. 15k), I have gone out of my way to hunt achievements, specifically ones that have rewards such as titles, or pets, or mounts. Therein lies the draw for a lot of other players, seeing that “Loremaster” title, or the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher dragon mount.
Professions are one of the larger time sinks provided for players. There were originally three “generic” professions that everyone can learn, First-Aid, Fishing, and Cooking. These have their own benefits, and can all be leveled. Then Archaeology was added. Archaeology is an incredible time-sink, where players can dig up and put together items, both treasures and trash. This is a fantastic way to show off the deep lore of the game, but the system was at first incredibly tedious. It still is, to an extent, but now more pieces come up each dig, so you won’t have to spend quite such an impossible amount of time working on it. But there are tangible rewards, such as fossilized pets and mounts, and that in and of itself makes it worth it to players.
The main professions provide greater rewards and more work than their secondary comrades. Enchanting, Tailoring, Herbalism, Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Mining, Jewelcrafting, and Scribing are the choices and a player can have two at any given time. These crafting professions have benefits, and are of course, hard work. But the hard work does not necessarily equal a just reward. Most of these are incredibly expensive, and the best things from said professions are likely not going to be anywhere but high level dungeons and raids. That means in order to make money off of your profession, it comes back to raiding. This is not always the case, such as in herbalism, or scribing, where you can make your money off of things you find on the ground, or from popular scribed items.
In fact, I would say crafting is the absolute weakest, worst part of World of Warcraft. There are a host of other games that have a better crafting system. Final Fantasy XIV is a prime example. In FFXIV, players do not fight over nodes. There is no griefing and killing and whining about it, because everyone can have nodes to farm for their crafting. That makes the prices less horrific in general on the Auction Hall. This ultimately leads to the downward spiral that is the economy of WoW.
Expansions have been received with mixed reactions throughout the existence of World of Warcraft. Each one has its own joys and hatred-filled rants, from the borderline racism of the Pandaria creatures, to the joy of challenging but wonderful raid content of Black Temple and the Sunwell. However, while the later content receives a great deal of criticism for the lack of challenge, it is safe to say that the game has ultimately gotten better with each iteration. This is not to say that it is the end-all of MMOs, for it certainly has its downsides. But, with each expansion, new game mechanics and new challenges await a variety of players.
However, World of Warcraft is now its own expansion. Gone are the days where you can simply enjoy the game in Vanilla, and not purchase Burning Crusade, or Wrath of the Lich King. The game evolves all on its own, and regardless of whether you buy any expansions, events such as the Cataclysm changed the way the game is played forever. The expansions interact with one another, and even if you do not purchase the expansion packs, certain parts of them are already in the main game, and change the way you play whether you want it to or not. Ultimately, to progress, or see the game as it is meant to be, expansions must be acquired.
All expansions are not created equal, though. Some are heralded and treated much better than others. WoW no longer follows the more archaic, ancient formula that EverQuest made so popular and famous. Though the developers at Blizzard try to do their best to make new and interesting game mechanics to keep the game exciting and interesting, they are unfortunately not keeping up with the curve. In their desire to get the game accessible for new players, they have pushed away the real money: the people who have played the game for years, who stick around despite how bad the changes affected the game. These are the core audience, and as this is true for WoW, it will continue to be true for other games, such as Guild Wars 2, EverQuest 2, DC Universe Online, and any other game that will come out. Their greed and gluttony for more players has only harmed their community, who has put forth time and energy into their product. Now personally I, like any other player, have my own favorites of expansion content. It is hard for me to judge just what content I liked the most, and what I liked the least.
If I really had to pick, I would start with Wrath of the Lich King, then Burning Crusade, and finish off with Cataclysm/Mists of Pandaria tied for the bottom slot. There are things I loved about Cataclysm, such as the reshaping of the world, the new quests, and the addition of Goblins and Worgen. I loved exploring the new world but the end-game content felt rushed and suffered in implementation as a result. One thing I will say, that as the game has progressed, game mechanics and the visuals of the game got better and better. The actual content unfortunately, did not always live up to the hype that it was given.
LF Tank and Heals, 25M ToC
Overall Grade: 4/5 Great
While World of Warcraft is not breaking barriers, or doing anything that has not admittedly been done before, they do it in a style that is unique to them. The sounds, effects and visuals of the game are unlike any other on the market and that means a lot to me. Blizzard offers a product that is accessible to many, and that can be enjoyed by players of any level of online gaming experience.
I personally enjoy the graphics of WoW as they remind me of the Warcraft series that ultimately spawned the MMO. Blizzard has purposely stayed on the low-polygon train, so that many PCs can access and play the game. This allows more people, and ultimately, more money in their pockets. While it is true that in Warlords of Draenor there will be a lot of new character models, subraces, and things of that nature to give a new, fresh look to WoW, I do not think the graphics will become very intense. However most, if not all, of the bosses in raids look amazing. Many of them just blow my mind with how cool they are.
The generic WoW UI is pretty basic and dull. Simply using the regular UI (User Interface) can lead to a bit of hassle as a healer or tank, trying to cover many bases at the same time. While the standard interface is terribly boring and simplistic, the fact that you can add mods that change how you use the game make up for this. The game is fully moddable to allow players of all skill levels enjoyment and with so many years of development time already, most anything you could wish for in mods has already been done. The game would be a lot less accessible without help from addons such as Deadly Boss Mods (warns of boss attacks), Auctioneer (helps undercut the competition), and Healbot (a healing interface to make better use of your healing spells).
Features and Gameplay: 4/5
With each addition to the World of Warcraft experience, features and gameplay improve. It is far from being perfected, or the best, but Blizzard tests these new additions, putting a great deal of time and effort into new gameplay features to ensure that they work as well as they possibly can. It is certainly a step in the right direction with each and every game.
Music and Sound: 4/5
What can I say? The sounds of Blizzard’s game are amazing. I hate to use the word “Epic”, but the orchestral sounds of World of Warcraft truly are. Each area has music styled to the setting you are supposed to be immersing yourself in. From the Mists of Pandaria Chinese-styled zithers and violins, to the gritty drums and horns of Orgrimmar, each area has its own fitting sounds. The voice actors themselves are special, and I won’t lie when I say that I feel chills still when I hear the voice of the Lich King, Kel’thuzad, and the thick guttural accents of characters like Garrosh Hellscream.
World of Warcraft Videos
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Blizzcon Trailer
World of Warcraft Burning Crusade Trailer
World of Warcraft Cinematic Trailer
World of Warcraft Links
World of Warcraft System Requirements
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 3 800 MHz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 256 MB Free
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 2 Series, ATI Radeon 7500 or Intel i810G Series Video Card
OS: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz or AMD Equivalent
RAM: 1024 (1GB) MB or more
HDD: 4.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6200
World of Warcraft Articles
- World of Warcraft: Patch 6.1 Hits the Servers - Posted on February 24, 2015
Blizzard has launched its latest feature patch for World of Warcraft today, making dozens of tweaks and improvements along with adding a modest amount of features.
- World of Warcraft – Highmaul Raid Reviewed - Posted on January 27, 2015
With World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor recently releasing, only one raid was prepared for the expansion’s launch: Highmaul, an Ogre compound controlled by Imperator Mar’gok.
- Predictions 2015: The Indie & The Mega-Corp - Posted on January 16, 2015
2014 was a little like the story of David and Goliath for the online gaming industry. We saw the rise of the indie developer and the humbling of the giant mega-gaming corporations.
- World of Warcraft Book Series Coming Soon By Dark Horse Comics - Posted on January 8, 2015
World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 is a journey through an age of myth and legend, a time long before the Horde and the Alliance came to be. This definitive tome of Warcraft history reveals untold stories about the birth of the cosmos, the rise of ancient empires, and the forces that shaped the world of Azeroth and its people.
- MMO Holiday Events Guide 2014 - Posted on December 19, 2014
See what the holiday spirits have summoned up in your favorite MMOs this year!