Experience: 3 Years+
- Large, interactive, detailed world
|» Pros|| |
- Distinct and useful classes
- High replay value
- Exceptionally addictive
- Most easily 'accessible' MMO ever
- Exceptionally addictive
|» Cons|| |
- Game "ends" effectively at level 60
- Class balance issues
- Updates are solely 'end game' ones
I was an original Beta tester for WoW. As such, I can honestly claim more experience with this game than many people. That doesn't mean my review is the only one you should listen to, but I do have a greater experience pool to draw from.
|» Review|| |
Firstly, the positive:
WoW is exceptionally easy to get into. Even my girlfriend, someone who would never in her life have ever bought a PC game, got addicted within 30 minutes of playing it. Many older (40+) and female gamers are very active in this game, presenting a much wider gamer demographic than the standard one - the standard one of course being predominantly male, and in the mid teens to late thirties age range. This should tell the observer a lot - the ability of this game to attract people who usually would never go near such an evironment is a true credit to its design and accessability.
That really is both the game's strength, and its weakness - its accessibility and ease. WoW is not a hard game to get into - you learn your skills, get your items, and develop your character via standard progression. Your skills are described to you in depth on your skill tab, and all descriptions are intuitive enough that even the very young or the very computer illiterate could easily master playing the game.
The effort required to reach level 60 (the end of this game) is also easy and intuitive, if time-consuming. There is very little penalty for death from 'mobs' (you have to repair your items, but there is no skill loss) and no penalty at all from dying to players in PvP. This means that the 'frustration' the game can generate is relatively low compared to more 'hardcore' MMO's, where death can literally mean the loss of the investment of hours, weeks, or months of play time as money, your ship/armour/weapons are destroyed etc. This therefore contributes greatly to its accessability, as less 'hardcore' players do not want to endure the hassle of losing so much of their time/effort.
On to the other positives, the game environment itself is stunning. The music, sound effects, graphics, and indeed the world itself are meticulously constructed. Warcraft has always had a very unique atmosphere and 'feel' to it, and it is seemlessly translated into the first-person perspective from the previous RTS (real time strategy) games of the Warcraft series. Ther are chairs to sit in, stairs to climb, 'colour' characters who serve no purpose but to bring the world to life, alcohol to buy - even flower shops. True RP fans will appreciate this depth - even non RP people will appreciate it for its attempts to provide a real 'world', and not just a base environment to quest from.
Last amongst the positives, the replay value. I've played the game since Beta - Beta ended nearly three years ago. I have never in my life played a single game for this long - usually I grow tired of games after a month or two. The replay value of this game is what keeps me here. Re-playing the game from the perspective of a different faction (horde versus alliance) or a different class (there are eight) truly does change the experience of the game, leading to different quests, different roles to play within a group, and a whole new way to have to learn how to play. The game 'content' might not change much, but every time I have levelled up a character, I have discovered at least a dozen different quests or locations that I had never known of before on past characters. After three years, and likely close to a dozen characters, this says alot about how deep and replayable the world is.
To the negatives...
There are very few I feel, but the few that exist are to some people 'game-breaking'. Perhaps the one the game is most often (and perhaps rightly) accused of is that the game "ends" at level 60. This is undeniable in a host of ways; you can no longer gain levels, you can no longer gain 'experience', there are no new world-areas that become accessible, there are no new skills to learn, and there really is no 'point' to continuing to play a character at level 60 unless you want to access a handful of very challenging 'dungeons', or have that desire to get the best gear possible in the game.
It would be thus fair to say that the game at level 60, if it doesn't 'end', changes fundamentally. One spends levels 1 - 59 questing, discovering new areas, learning new skills, and feeling a sense of accomplishment when one achieves a new level. At level 60, all that is left is attacking hard dungeons in large groups of people, PvP'ing, or collecting loot. None of these things generally appeal to the more casual gamer, and so the casual gamer is forced to 'roll' a new character, or quit.
The concensus is that the 'end game' level 60 experience is thus for hardcore people only. It cannot be denied that the best gear/hardest dungeons can *only* be accessed by large groups of at least twenty people. To coordinate such a large group of people naturally requires a commitment to a schedule for raiding, and the investment of many hours at a time to defeat the very hard dungeons. One does not simply log in and find a random group for the 20 and 40 man instances in this game - you need a seriously organized and skilled 'guild' to access this content.
It is unfortunate that a game that is so accessible, "solo-able", and developmental throughout 99% of one's time suddenly and so drastically changes at level 60. It literally becomes a case of joining a massive raiding guild for a miniscule chance at fantastical gear, or making a new character. The last option of course is to quit.
It should also be noted that one distinct 'negative', is that all "new" content is soley for the 'end game' party of warcraft. No new lower-level areas or dungeons have been added since the start of the game nearly three years ago. In all honesty, I do not know why. It would appear that Blizzard is solely focussed on providing content to level 60's (or those close to level 60) despite their claim that their game is mostly aimed at the more casual MMO player. This is the one factor that bothers me the most.
Well, what a long review! To conclude, if you're a hardcore person - this game is for you. The levelling up process is relatively quick, and if all you care about is bragging about your latest pixelated toy, there are many pixelated toys a-plenty for those who join the harcore raiding guilds and who are willing to put in the hours-on-end to get them. For the casual person, I'd say this game is also for you, despite the fact that at level 60, you might suddenly become very frustrated with the fact that to accomplish anything significant, you suddenly need 19 or 39 other people to help you. The game is intuitive and diverse enough that the level 1 - 59 experience is worth it, and the varied classes and factions means you can always just level a new character again, likely with a very similarly high level of enjoyment.
All in all, WoW does its best to please both casual and hardcore gamer alike, and even the people in between those two polar opposites - people like myself. It has enough "hardcore" content to keep power-gamers coming back for more, and enough simple and purely 'fun' content for people who would never even consider playing a computer game to suddenly find themselves playing WoW for hours on end.
I find myself starting, only now after nearly three years, to be tiring of the game. It is still fun, but I know everything inside and out! It took me, a person who can play as much as 30 hours per week (university student) nearly 3 years to truly and finally feel "been there, done that" in regards to all of the game content... and even then, I still find the game enjoyable, and have no intention of cancelling my subscription.
Well done Blizzard.