Sunday, June 14, 2009

WoW: The Quest... Alternates!

Many times I have mentioned here that I am through with massively multi-player online role playing games and I have placed the blame on World of Warcraft. When I quit WoW in late April 2008, the main reason behind it was the over-demanding end game. Things were getting too repetitive in regards to building the necessary reputations to get the most sough-after rewards and the end game dungeons were too time consuming even though a hint of change was beginning to emerge with the introduction of Sunwell Isle that came the latest patch that arrived at the eve of my previous existence in Azeroth. I never said that the game was terrible - it's just that it was becoming too overbearing.

A week ago, I was talking to an old WoW friend about revisiting the game again. The idea sounded disgusting to me. Still, during that discourse, I admitted to my friend that I miss playing the Battlegrounds in WoW - Battlegrounds are large faction-based player-vs.-player battles with varying goals: capture the flag, claim territories, etc. only they are much more exciting than Halo or any other first/third person shooters out there because of its complexity and depth of gameplay [and that you can't die from a cheap one hit (head)shot unless you're ganked... Not too mention the fact that you don't see characters jumping up and down all over the place like a bunch of wild monkeys]. All of a sudden, I was reminded of the good things in WoW and with my recent hunger for action role playing games, I could sense trouble brewing in the horizon. For quite a while ever since I quit WoW, I tried to replace the addiction by playing other similar games and eventually, the craving disappeared but not completely as you will soon discover.

I went to the WoW website late yesterday evening to check out the game's updates. I then saw the latest epic armor sets for the characters. Here's one of them:

If I was a warlock, I would so want that.

A lot of the classes are getting some truly wicked looking armor sets and best of all: to get them, one only has to raid short-length dungeons with 9 other people. This is a major difference from the ultra-hardcore mentality that was prevalent during the contents found in the original game and its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. And then, I saw this:

Why not? This expansion trial is open to any WoW account holder
even if he/she doesn't have an active subscription. Very smart.

Immediately, I reinstalled the game - a process that required a monumental amount of patience because it took me almost an entire day to download the game's 4+ years worth of patches. I started playing it around 5pm this evening and all I can say is that I am glad that I am playing the game again. There are many intriguing changes that have been made to the game. The first thing I noticed was the rebalanced talent trees for the classes. I have a level 70 priest who was spec Discipline/Holy before I quit and now I have spec him into a Shadow Priest. The new level cap is 80 so there's a lot of adventures waiting for me if I choose to continue playing this game after the 10-day trial period. Below are some of the things I encountered during my initial return to WoW:

I logged in to the very the spot where I last exited the game. It used to be
the most crowded place in the game and now, it's nothing but a ghost town.

The game now has a very comprehensive achievement system
that would surely please even the filthiest achievement/trophy whores.

The world is now filled with real time shadows, complete with self-shadowing. Looking good!
All other players and NPCs are also properly shadowed, unlike Warhammer Online.

The hero class is not that alluring to me because I don't want to add another
character to level up - even if it starts you up at level 55.

The Battlegrounds are still as fun as ever... I spent most of my time there
this evening even though I should really be questing to level my character up.

Overall, my experience so far is both pleasant and frustrating at the same time because I am reminded of the things that make the game fun (the polished cartoon-ish graphics, addictive gameplay mechanics) and I am also struck by the things that made me quit the game in the first place (still too time consuming and demanding - including a new dual-talent specialization feature that will require you to pay 1000 gold to unlock and no, it's not easy to make that kind of money in WoW). I also know that it would take a lot of my time away from my other games if I do decide to continue playing this game. I did a little bit of soul-searching this evening and I think I know why I want to get back into WoW - the need for a more meaningful online friendship. I am beginning to get a little tired of the lack of real camaraderie found in my overall online experience on the consoles. Besides that one friend of mine who later quickly turned on me for no apparent reason, I haven't found any other substantial people that I really connect with. The sense of community is alive and well in a MMO because its a genre that requires a continuous stream of communication in a grand scale for it to work. I seem to have better luck finding great people in a MMO but the WoW community is a bit suspect though. It helps that I do have several friends waiting for me in Azeroth. With all that has been said, I haven't made up my mind yet about WoW. I will take full advantage of the free trial and we will see where it might lead me.


Blake said...

never played a MMO, mostly because my game play is so erratic that I can't justifying paying for something that I don't know when I'll have time to play it.

The Dc Universe for the PS3 interest me. Mainly because I think its free and if so, means I can play at my leisure. Which I like.

Loner Gamer said...

It'd be great if DC Universe is free but it would also mean that the game would lack the depth found in a true MMO :)

Based on the footage so far, I think it may end up being more of an action hack-and-slash - think Marvel Ultimate Alliance only with more character customizations and more social options - so it's highly possible that it may be free to play because there is definitely no way anyone would pay a monthly fee to play that.