Ye old World of Warcraft

So I needed to get this out and post about a game I have played in many forms since the 90s. Warcraft. I played the second version of Warcraft. I loved it and played all the way through. Warcraft 3 was hit or miss. I felt that the game did not explain its objectives thoroughly and I was left looking online to figure out how to finish the game.

Then I was wandering around Iraq as a contractor and decided to try something in my off time. We had a satellite connection and sometimes the work did not come in steady. So to kill some time and wait for a real gaming group, I played World of Warcraft the first version in 2005. I got hooked but it was reluctant at first.

I am one of those who loves table top RPGs. I would rather flex my mind more than my fingers. But to do a table-top game right, you needed friends. This game allowed me to explore a world on my own without my friends. It killed the time. Jobs came and went. This filled the void left by my isolation and lack of gaming group.

Now I have been playing it since then on and off. Sure I stopped. I quit for a year twice. This time I came back and now I am playing with just a free to play account. I do not want to pay for the services (but I do miss my level 100 shadow priest).

I played arena, did many, many battlegrounds. PVP was and still is my favorite part of the game. I did lots of quests and many achievements. I have some pretty unique items. But something will not let me commit to such a huge time sink again.

First off the game misses the spark it had in Vanilla (version 1). What is this spark? Simple. The fear of getting destroyed by creatures (mobs) or ganked by fellow players. With flying and the ability to pretty much melt the face of anyone in the world it gets old. This is primal. We want to collect things like our ancestors and we want to feel that fight or fight adrenaline rush again. Even PVE players want a zone they cannot master. Many players including myself feel the expansion Wrath of the Lich King was their height. I feel Wrath was great but personally I am a fan of Burning Crusades. Zangramarsh is still an amazing zone aesthetically.

PVP servers really do not feel like PVP zones. During the expansions only the Timeless Isle (MoP) sort of captured that spirit in a limited area. The newer content in Warlords of Draenor became stale very quickly due to people getting tired of building a fort and doing these mini quests. Garrisons are nice when you can share it with someone. The new areas are great but people burned out very quickly. Heck you can level up a character now on a PVP server with no guild or group at all. Nobody bothers with the whole experience of world pvp anymore. This is a shame as it is an element sorely missing in the game.

Several tries and failures have been made to capture the true spirit of PVP like in Vanilla when Tarren Mill Horde went up against Southshore Alliance. This was the epic battle of the week. I still have many memories of doing battle with my friends in this low player zone. If they could capture this spirit again it would revitalize their flagging game. I doubt they will.

Second, the model of free to play games changed expectations of everyone who plays. Subscriptions cannot sustain a company. Subscriptions are just one of many revenues a game company must use in order to survive.  World of Warcraft has not changed their model and reluctantly put a few items up in the store for people to purchase.

If World of Warcraft went Free to Play, they would gain a lot of their audience back. Combined with more dangerous places to visit and more in store purchases along with a few quality ads they could rise up to the top.

But again, their top management probably does not like these ideas. For such a rip off of a concept fantasy idea, they slowly transformed it with lore and background to a truly solid concept. This world is ripe to not only keep making movies but continue on as THE ONLINE MMO game to play.

But they need to capture the spirit of old. When fighting a battle with friends was fun. When you wanted your character to survive passing through a zone. And a newer model of generating revenue needs to be implemented FULLY. Not just half assed.

More than likely I will pick up my subscription again only to put it aside for possibly better MMOs. A review on Warframe will be coming soon along with Wildstar.

For this review I will do a current state of the game review.

Fun Factor 3 out 5 stars The fun gets stale really quick. In Vanilla up to Wrath I would bring this up to 5. It dipped down to 3 during Mists of Pandera and Cataclysm. Currently with the introduction of Garrisons and the new content some of the fun is back. But they can do better. Less is more and this is where you can only collect so much junk to be happy. Increasing the diversity of player engagement would bring the fun factor up.

Player Engagement 4 out of 5 stars. So many thing to do. The Garrison keeps one busy and the other content breaks up the grind. But honestly I want more organic, player created content. So much of our imagination is not being used. If they want to break the barrier and get more gamers to play their game they need to take a page out of Minecraft and allow players to build, create and bring on their own events. If the Alliance takes over Orgrimmar it should be an epic event which should be part of the game. Instead it is back to the way things were. Gamers want to impact the world, not just be by-standards.

Content and Story 5 out of 5 stars. What was a weakness back in the 90s is now their greatest strength. The world is vast and filled with many stories and several characters now have solid personalities.

Overall this is still a great game. I will not deny that. But I have a feeling games like Wildstar might take their spot. Right now in MMOs the crown of MMO King is Blizzard’s to lose and it looks as if the crown is slipping off.

Oh and a reminder, other games will be reviewed such as Unknown Armies (table-top game which I am playing now via Skype) and Arkham Horror (a board game I love).

And books too. I will post a review on a collection of short stories by Phillip K. Dick this month.




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