Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Vivendi
Release Date: November 2004, PC CD and Online
Genre Keywords: Fantasy, Massive, Multiplayer, Online, MMORPG

Note (August 2015): Legion has been announced and will be released in 2016.

Note (August 2014): Warlords of Draenor is released, allowing characters to advance to level 100.

Note (September 2012): Mists of Pandaria is released, allowing characters to advance to level 90.

Note (December 2010): Cataclysm is released, allowing characters to advance to level 85.

Note (June 2010): Wrath of the Lich King has been out for a while now, and as with every expansion Blizzard has added a ton of content and new ways to play. Quests have been streamlined and provided with map directions and notes on how to complete; dungeon finding has been automated to be nearly effortless for the solo player; dual talents have been introduced letting you play the way you want (at a cost of 1000 gold); an equipment manager has been introduced so you can swap out between sets with a single button; mounts are now available at level 20 and 40 for the regular and fast speeds respectively; and many more. I can no longer say that the game isn't solo-friendly. However, I stand by my (now very old) assertion that it is a collection of mini-games (some not so mini anymore) that try to pull in as many player types as possible. There is now highly streamlined questing, dungeon running, PvP, crafting, raiding, exploring, and lots more - and all of it now easily accessible to the solo player.

Note (November 2007): Patch 2.3 (the major post-Burning Crusade patch) has done a lot of things to streamline the leveling experience and put newbie players on par with the veterans. Among the major changes were: making a lot of world Elite enemies non-Elite; cutting XP needed to level by 33%; increasing quest XP by 33%; improving questing in the high 30-low 40 level range by adding over 60 quests in that area; revamping dungeon levels to appropriate level ranges. This has only made the game more soloable, but otherwise the write-up remains unchanged. See World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade for more info on latest changes.

Note (10/04/06): Updated the Paladin class description as it was incorrectly formed; updated my "creds" to raise all classes/races played to "middle twenties" rather than "late teens"; added links to the few dungeons I've enjoyed (and written up). Everything else remains unchanged (shock!).

Disclaimer's disclaimer (6/19/06): After resisting the lure for 1.5 years, I have finally succumbed to WoW's LCD appeal. Despite this, I don't have much to add to the below write-up, except maybe that the Auction House is a pretty good addition. I will add the following insights as well:

  • WoW is really a collection of really smooth minigames (XP, Money, Auction House, Crafting, PvP, Exploration, Quests) that all result in palpable improvements to your character.
  • If you're looking to make a global impact on the game, don't bother. WoW's world is, and shall remain, static.
  • The game is incredibly soloable - so much so that it is a wonder that at level 60 the only way to advance (until Burning Crusade, the first WoW expansion comes out) is to completely and utterly change your playing style (repeatable, 40-man raids are the antithesis of soloing).


Disclaimer: I'm what's considered a casual player. I don't discriminate between high-end and low-end game; if a game is not fun from the start, no sale - I will most likely not ever see the high-end anyway, and don't consider it a "reward" for suffering through mind-numbing low-end gameplay. I will focus here on simple pros and cons, from a casual gamer's perspective.

Secondly, I've leveled nearly all races and classes to mid twenties (except the Paladin); as such, I haven't even seen the so-called "high level" content. This may be enough to dissuade you from reading the rest - that's okay, my w/u is probably not for you. See above, re "casual".

My data comes from accompanying higher levels around, grilling higher level characters about their experience and surfing the beta forums. At those levels I've traveled across the world and tried other races' quests - I'm not really keen on staying in one spot for any length of time. That's that for my credentials...

---- start here ----

The popular buzz in the gaming world is that Blizzard doesn't innovate; they steal, perfect, and release. The impending release of World of Warcraft (hereafter WoW) should do nothing to dispel this buzz. It is indeed a highly polished, slick, graphically nice (with that quirky Warcraft of yore art - zug zug!) looking, interface-friendly and overall easy-to-play ... basic grind MMO (see leveling treadmill).

Now that the unpleasant intro is behind us, let's get into the meat of the World.

World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online game crafted (ah-ha) by Blizzard Entertainment. It relies on the rich mythology of Warcraft, as created in the games Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft III and the Frozen Throne expansion. The world of Azeroth is quite well-defined, and the games' history is chronological, with WoW coming last in the sequence of events. Warcraft III is recommended prerequisite lecture, but not required. After the (oddly enough) war of Warcraft III, the eight races have achieved an uneasy truce while they recover and rebuild; border skirmishes continue and remnants of the Burning Legion (the Big Boss Enemy du jour) infest the land. It is your task, as a newly (insert adjective like raised/elevated/knighted/graduated) (insert 2 nouns, containing race and class type) to help in this effort.

The two sides of the War were the Alliance and the Horde. As you may expect, the Alliance contains beings of elegance - graceful and imposing Night Elves, noble and sturdy Dwarves, proud-limbed Humans and the um, ah, short Gnomes. The Horde contains creatures of chaos - grim and dark Undead, raging cro magnon Orcs, wily Trolls and massive Taurens. In an intriguing twist however, the light side is rather murky and the dark is ... not so dark. More on this as we get into the races...

Starting the game

Select a race, a class, and some minor character customisation. WoW does not thrill here; there are no choices of player build (fat, thin, bulky, tall, short, muscular, athletic ... all these are sadly missing), and few faces to pick from. Compared to Star Wars Galaxies and especially City of Heroes, the choices are meager indeed - the items you obtain later will mitigate this slightly, however. Your most outstanding and visible feature at the start will be your hair style and color, so choose well. Let's see what you get to choose from (male or female for each gender).

Races - Alliance

  • As usual, chiseled and muscular (or buxom and curvy) humans are your well-rounded character class. They inhabit the medieval-themed city of Stormwind, hub of commerce and education for most of the Alliance. King Arthur wouldn't be embarrassed to rule Stormwind. Its approach is lined with massive statues of fallen heroes of past Warcrafts. Humans can choose just about any class: Warlock, Warrior, Mage, Paladin, Priest and Rogue are all available. Human special abilities include heightened stealth detection, a natural boost in Spirit, a bonus to faction gain (since they're so goshdarned likable), and an inborn skill with the sword.

  • Stout (and, well, stout) Dwarven warriors and crafty Dwarf engineers live in snow-capped Khaz Modan. The Dwarven stronghold of Ironforge burrows deep into the mountains, channeling heat and fire of the earth for dwarven forges. As handy with a battleaxe as they are with fine tools, dwarves can become Hunters, Warriors, Paladins, Priests or Rogues. Master creators or despoilers of the land, the dwarven lust for rare earths is now augmented by a desire to seek out relics of their past ... even if it may prove to be their undoing. As part of their heritage, Dwarves can briefly become immune to poison, disease, and bleed and have a natural resistance to cold. They can also detect treasure like no one else, and have an innate skill with guns.

  • Not to be bested on the race to destruction, the statuesque Night Elves have not only managed to bring the Burning Legion into the world, but also lost their immortality through their prideful use of magic. Not even that catastrophe was enough to stop them, they have created a new world tree far away from all inhabited lands. Darnassus now stands tall, but even it is infected by the remnants of the Legion. The Night Elves classes include Hunter, Warrior, Priest, Rogue, and are the only Alliance race to have Druids in their midst. Night Elves can become hidden in the shadows while stationary, and have quicker reflexes, letting them dodge easily. They are also more resistant to nature effects. And stepping out of character for a moment, just because I can't explain death and rebirth with in-game terms, they are faster in death - Night Elves transform to a wisp upon death and can travel faster.

  • The ill-fated Gnomes' home city of Gnomeragan was wiped out when an unknown menace erupted from deep within the earth during the Legion wars. A lot of the Gnome population was lost, and the remains of the race fled to their cousins' stronghold, the nearby Ironforge. The Gnomes' engineering skills are now being put to ridding Azeroth of the scourge. Gnomes can be Warriors, Rogues, Mages or Warlocks. Gnomes' small size lets them get out of snare effects easily, and their penchant for tinkering lends them a natural intelligence boost. They also have a natural Engineering skill, and resist Arcane effects better.

Races - Horde

  • The Orcs, once noble and proud, have been corrupted by the Burning Legion to be prolific, mindless brutes intent only on slaughter. As the tide turned against the Legion, the Orcs overthrew their demonic masters and are well on their way to restoring their shamanistic, noble past. Strength and honor! The Orcs can become Hunters, Warlocks, Warriors, Shamen or Rogues in their quest to regain their race's place in the world. Their natural strength lends them the ability to increase Strength when enraged, and grants them resistance to stun and knockout effects. Orc pets are hardier than most, so their damage is increased as well. Finally, Orcs are handy with axes...

  • Traditionally, the cruel and superstitious Trolls have little regard for other races. Their warlike ways led to their near-extinction, save for Orc chieftain Thrall's intercession. The grateful Darkspear clan (the only one remaining) of mystics swore allegiance to the Horde, and made its home in Durotar, nearby the Orc encampments. A troll can become a Hunter, Warrior, Shaman, Rogue, Priest or Mage. The trolls are natural berserkers, able to fight faster when wounded; they also regenerate wounds faster. They're handy with all sorts of thrown weaponry, and their beastlore lets them target animal enemies with utmost efficiency.

  • The massive bull-like tribal Taurens serve nature, holding the balance between the elements and the wild things of Azeroth. In tune with the land, the otherwise peaceful Taurens allied themselves with the Orcs during the war with the Burning Legion. They fight to maintain their racial dignity. They can become Hunter, Druid, Warrior or Shamen. Tauren's massive size lets them stun their opponents with a mighty thundering stomp; they also have excellent constitution. Their proximity to nature makes them excellent herb-gatherers, and increases their resistance to Nature effects.

  • The separatist sect of the undead, the Forsaken, only recently freed from the grasp of the Lich King, fight for free will and eradication of all humanity. Their alliance with the Horde is one of convenience only. These ghastly humanoids can be Warriors, Warlocks, Mages, Rogues and Priests. Not much frightens you when you're already dead - the Forsaken can become immune to fear, sleep, and charm effects, and are more resistant to Shadow effects. Their need for air is minimal, so they can stay underwater 3 times as long as living races. Finally, the undead eat BRAINS! and are able to regenerate faster when doing so. (Note that Blizzard has determined that undead aren't really undead anymore - before a recent patch, the Forsaken were ALWAYS immune to fear, sleep and charm, and could stay underwater indefinitely. Pity.)

Classes Summary

You got your race, now pick your class. These will be short overviews.

  • Warrior - The basic melee + lots of hitpoints class. Successful attacks and damage taken increase your Rage bar; spend Rage to use combat abilities. Can use all armor, all weapons, has no self-healing though. Can vary stances to act as cautious damage-dealer, defensive tanker, or berserker (does more damage, takes more damage).

  • Mage - Damage spells. Lots and lots of ranged damage. Wears only cloth, low hitpoints. Uses mana for combat, can create food and drink to replenish own (and that of others') health and mana. Can use Teleport in later levels for quick transit between hubs (major cities). Has a few more utility spells like polymorph (changes enemy to sheep, get a breather), and feather fall (safe descent from heights.

  • Paladin - The Paladin is a heavily armored priest. Can wear the strongest of armors and wield quite a few weapons, as well as cast lots of powerful assorted friendly spells on herself and other party members. Auras provide protection for the entire party, but only one can be active at a time. There's a few offensive spells in there, too. The Paladin's damage output is low and of of tertiary import to her ability to protect party members and herself.

  • Priest - The healing class. Wears cloth only, and is restricted to few weapons, but has LOTS and lots of healing and a few protection spells. Some damage is in there too, but priests are wiser to save their mana for healing duty. Priests can also choose the ever-popular path of darkness, allowing them to dish out considerable damage and still remain viable healers.

  • Rogue - A very interesting class. Uses Energy and Combo points to execute special moves; Energy can't be regenerated, but costs of moves can be reduced. The more hits land, the more combo points earned - combo points directly correspond to the efficacy of special moves. Uses daggers primarily, but can be trained to many others. Wears cloth or leather only. Uses stealth to become near-invisible - this aids in getting to places other classes can't, and to use abilities like backstab without drawing enemies' attention. Uses melee otherwise.

  • Hunter - Another non-standard class, the Hunter wears anything up to Mail armor and uses a combination of melee and ranged weaponry. While opening up with ranged and finishing off an enemy with melee works, the Hunter truly comes into their own when they gain the ability to tame and train beasts. The beast then acts as a companion, fighting alongside the Hunter and effectively doubling their damage output. The Hunter uses traps and bestial aspects to gain temporary combat abilities.

  • Warlock - The other pet-centric class, the Warlock summons its companion from THE BOWELS OF HELL! (ahem) Like the Mage, the Warlocks use mana and have little physical endurance - they can only wear cloth armor as well. Unlike the mage however, their spells are more of a utilitarian nature; a warlock can summon players, funnel life, curse enemies, scout out the land invisibly ... all sorts of weird funky things, to keep this short. A lot of Warlock abilities require a Soul Shard - you get them by casting a spell on dying critters.

  • Shaman - A fighter/mage hybrid, the Shaman can cast all sorts of party buffs (totems, which are stationary and can be targeted by enemies) to improve the party's fighting efficiency. In addition, the Shaman gets a lot of utility spells like fast travel, water-walking, water-breathing or recall. To counterbalance the sheer number of totems available, the Shaman can only wear cloth and leather (mail with training) armor.

  • Druid - Ah, the cool class. Druids can heal, zap from a distance, and melee with staves, daggers and polearms. So far nothing to write home about, but at higher levels they get the ability to shapeshift. The bear form is a poor-man's warrior, and the cat form is a poor man's rogue; in addition there are land- and water-based traveling forms for fast transit. Although you can't use items while in animal form, this ability makes the Druid a very versatile class.

Professions overview

This will be even quicker, promise. Professions are the non-combat abilities your character can have. Everyone can get cooking, fishing and first aid - you can improve your food's healing powers, gather alternate food, and perform basic healing with those, respectively. For cooking you need a fire (and can make a campfire using wood and tinder); for fishing you need a fishing pole and later, lures; for basic first aid you need linen fabric, salvageable from most humanoid enemies (i.e., those that wear clothes).

You can have two main skills (in addition to the three default secondaries). Learning them doesn't cost anything; skill points no longer exist in the game. You can unlearn and learn professions at leisure. Assume that the higher the skill, the steeper the recipe requirements.

Gathering skills - these are mining, skinning, and herbalism. Pretty self-explanatory: the ability to mine rocks (need a pick and a mineable rock - these spawn on hills and mountains, and you get an ability to detect these lodes); the ability to skin beasties (need a skinning knife, but almost every beast is skinnable - this one's the easiest); and the ability to gather herbs (same as mining, except with plants). Higher levels in skinning allow you to skin higher level beasts successfully (otherwise you get leather scraps), higher mining lets you mine different ores, higher herbalism ditto for plants.

Tailoring - lets you make clothing items from linen. This is obviously a good skill for a mage or a warlock. Doesn't require gathering, since linen is a monster drop, but does require dyes, thread and various fabrics. Requires recipes purchased from a tailor, which are available at your appropriate tailoring level. Level is raised by making items, and the interface for this is slick just like everything else. Click on Tailoring (in your Skills Panel), click on the item you want to make, check the requirements (and the specs), and click Create. If you have more than one item to make, you can Create All - but you still have to wait for the "crafting" animation to finish (looks like twiddling thumbs, ironically enough).

Leatherworking - As above, but requires skins from animals. You can turn scraps into leather as well. Requires a few reagents as well (curing salt, dyes, thread again).

Smithing - Ditto. Slightly different as it requires not only a smithing hammer, it also requires you to be at a forge. Otherwise as above; substitute ores for leather/cloth. At superhigh levels, you can specialize in armor or weapon smithing

Engineering - Likewise, requires ores, spits out utility items. Guns, goggles, grenades, bombs, charges...all sorts of unusual stuff, but may also require uncommon ingredients.

Alchemy - Same again. Takes in herbs, spits out potions.

Enchanting - Requires magical reagents, and grants enchantments on items.

Can we get started please?

Ok, ok. So you got your race, your class, your "Welcome to Azeroth" quest, your "New Arrivals" village to try your hand at a few quests, and some basic equipment which sucks. What to do next?

Take a look around first. No matter where you started, you received a brief flyby of the area and a voice overview of "the way things are". Take in the scenery...

World of Warcraft is rendered in rich, vivid hues and exaggerated architectures and fauna. Every valley, mountain peak, world tree, foreboding keep, bandit outpost, gloomy barrow (etc) is crafted with loving attention to detail, and that near-cartoony graphics style first seen in Warcraft III. Snowy peaks feel positively frigid and remote, lush valleys thick and humid - Azeroth exudes atmosphere. Lake bottoms, hidden valleys and mines are no exception - you'll rarely find a brick out of place here. In a bump-mapped, hi-tech world where repetetive textures are the norm, Azeroth's architecture seems downright hand-wrought and rustic. Ambient sounds and soothing music completes each area's overarching mood.

The interface is so obvious and easy to use I won't even bother describing it. Powers on the bottom left, inventories (you can have multiple satchels and bags along with your backpack) on the bottom right, status effects and map top right, your health and mana bar (and that of your pets + party, if existing) top left. Transparent chat pane hovers in the lower left, over your spells. You can view up to 2 subpanels on the screen, and they're also very well-defined and easy to use. One thing they could do is let me eliminate useless spells (weak versions, no longer in use) from the spellbook.

There should be a guide standing nearby; you can identify him (or her) by the big yellow exclamation mark floating over his head. That mark will always identify someone who has a task for you. A silver exclamation mark means that you don't qualify for a task yet...but will soon. Finally, a yellow question mark indicates a person who will accept your completed task and hand out a reward. Now go talk to your guide.

Your guide will direct you to the headman of the nearby village (keep/castle/den, what have you). S/he will then proceed to gently point out that well, you're not very mighty - but they might be able to make use of you. You will then be promptly turned around and marched off to pest control duty (Kill 10 of whatever rodent infests your starting village). On the way out, you may find one or two other folks who have missions for you - go ahead and talk to them. Then head out and start killing!

Not very inspiring, is it? Get used to it, because in essence, this and the assorted "Bring item X to person Y" is what the rest of the game's quests will consist of. No, seriously, other than crafting stuff for yourself (because you won't be able to sell it, see below) and friends, this is all the game consists of.

Eventually, at high levels you will be able to hold your own against other human players (the PvP factor), and whack them instead of the game's monsters. But the core of the game is whacking X numbers of monsters; not trade, not becoming an economic power; not having a monopoly on something coveted; not becoming ruler of a contested territory...nah, none of that. This should surprise no one, but it would have been nice if it was different, wouldn't it? Especially considering that the original Warcraft was a game of territorial conquest and control...

Why is this fun?

Several reasons.

  • The combat is fast-paced, intuitive, and has some neat options. For example, the mage can turn baddies into sheep, the warlock can sic his fire imps, the hunter runs around, shoots, and melees all the while his pet is savaging his quarry.

  • Grouping introduces new dynamics, and instanced dungeons provide different challenges in tailored, often awe-inspiring environments.

  • The loot flows constantly. Whether it's animal innards, or a rare weapon from a tough foe, or just coinage, you're always getting something. Even if it's crap, it's still sellable for cash as merchants will buy everything.

  • The carrot of higher level abilities. The higher up you are, the neater the choices that open up to you. For example, Druids receive a VIP pass to a Druid-only area of Azeroth in their teens, and Hunters get a very useful 30% running speed boost at level 20.

  • The carrot of higher level loot. Since the character generator is pathetically weak, all of the player customization has to be done via items - armor and weaponry. Some of the high end stuff is decently imposing.

In these areas, WoW excels. It presents an easy to use, intuitive, coherent and pretty world to you, with tons of carrots for advancement.

Sounds great! But in the beginning you sounded negative. Schizophrenic much?

No, no, I'm just warming up (kidding! not much more left). Here's what's bad about WoW.

  • The combat, despite the various options, isn't all that visceral. After City of Heroes' rich physics (enemies and heroes get knocked down and tossed about by earth-shattering stomps and swings, there are animations for knockback-dealing hits, assorted paralysis "spells" and various, multi-enemy hit animations), WoW's single "Oof" animation feels lacking. Most classes' combat consists of standing in one place and hitting 2 of their main attacks. Finally, how can one feel epic when challenged by a single fluffy wolf?

  • Spawn camping is a problem that occurs when the resource needed to complete a quest is vastly smaller than the number of questors - you end up with questors fighting with each other to find item Y or kill enemy X. Can there be anything more immersion breaking than arriving at the hideout of the Bandit Chief and finding that 12 other people want to kill him - upon his death, the rest wait patiently for him to rise from the he can be killed again. This is a game mechanic that was bad design when it first came around...and it's still around. There's no excuse for this (see City of Heroes again).

  • Moneysinks. As a casual player, I have no use for these devices and their attempt to simulate a real economy via virtual "wear and tear" or obsolescence - all it means to me is that the power players will have all the money, and the casuals will be barely scraping by. This is a simple calculation: casual gamers cannot and WILL not play simply for monetary gains, but attempting to progress their character (which involves more risk/expenditure than gain), any given day. Any added maintenance-driven moneysinks only widen the gap, as there's now even less chance for me to save my cash, and character-advancing activities are even more risky, monetarily. Did you know that even though you'll be using ~3 attacks for a long, long time, you have to keep buying new, more powerful versions every few levels? Each costs increasingly more, too... It doesn't get more blatantly sink-y than Fireball, Fireball 2, Fireball 3...etc.

  • Timesinks, ditto. I understand that you don't want an insta-teleport for everyone, or horsies for everyone right off. And yes, you do give a lot of options - free transportation (the goblin zeppelins, the automated boats), flight paths (for pay, but lots of flight paths), and class-dependent modes (druids' and shaman travel form, mages teleport, warlock summoning). Too bad a lot of those options come so very late. Your own horse at level 40? Ridiculous.

  • Inability to group with friends. First there's that travel thing. Should you, heavens forbid, choose a different race from your friends, you'll have a long trek to visit them - then, of course, your own quests will be far away. Second, if you choose the same race, you will have the same quests and one of you will inevitably outlevel the other. Now the person ahead has the fun option of doing the same quests over again, and bring down the XP gained by both. Yay.

Ok, done! A few assorted complaints follow, but they're not horribly vital.

Inability to sell your crafted product other than spamming the Auction channel. Why not let me put stuff on commission, in shops? If it doesn't sell, it doesn't sell, but at least it has a chance to bring in more (if it does) than what the merchant buys it for! Alternately, new players get more options. ¹

Inability to instantly craft items. If I have 20 reagents, why can't I just click "Create All" and have all of them done? Instead, I have to wait for 20 iterations of the creation animation. Whom does this timesink benefit???

Like everything else, crafting is useless until high levels are reached - people are having a hard time giving away the goodies they make, simply because quest rewards are usually better, or they can craft the items themselves (which is doubly effective since it raises their skill at crafting, and provides them with the item itself). Alternately, joining a guild lets you power level your crafting sky high with very little effort - once again, the rich will have it all.

Real-time clock. This means that I will always play when it's evening in the game world. I can cross the world in 30 minutes, but it'll always be the same time. All the work put into making different times of day, completely wasted on me and many others who can only play at a certain time. This isn't really lack of innovation, it's just a very weird decision that benefits (who again?) those who play more.

Et cetera, et cetera. The bottom line is, Blizzard does not innovate here either. It borrows, polishes up so that all of the above is very easy to use (no manual required) and understand ... but in the end, it's hard to inject fun into game mechanics as old as Everquest.

So it's pretty, and slick...but bad? Is that it?

Close, yeah. I wouldn't say it's bad. It's:
- a little too determined to make you not stand out;
- it's a little too reliant on obsolete and infuriating game mechanics;
- it's a little too dedicated to grouping;
- it caters a bit too much to hardcore players (anyone with more than an hour per day, which is already quite a bit), more so with the recent changes.
- it doesn't know what to do with its endgame, and probably never will since what it has (raids) works.

This doesn't mean it can't change through future patches (there's two weeks until release as of writing, and of course an MMO is never done and all that. If any major changes occur a launch, I'll be one surprised gamer), but that's its state at the moment. And it just feels too much like work.

But it sure is pretty!

Thanks for softlinking leveling treadmill. I was looking for grind, but forgot its older name, "treadmill". A lot of my points are elaborated on in there, and most of them are valid for WoW.

¹ I'm a bit split on the efficacy of the Auction house. On one hand, it's an elegant centralized solution for all your selling needs. Gather Crap -> Craft a High Powered Item™ -> Sell at Auction house. On the other hand, this once again avails new and casual players little, as they have little time to traipse there. I suppose the penalty for being casual is that you only ever get to sell to vendors at a fraction of the price; but this issue can also be filed under Economy; Moneysinks and surely done better (see EVE Online; an "auction house" on almost every station, with the ability to scan by entire region - makes the buyer come to you, not the other way around).²

² Times have changed and it pays for even newbie players to visit the Auction House. That is because even their little teeny items will still be bought for ludicrous amounts of money to create so-called twinks - new characters financed by the same player's older, insanely rich characters. This is of course because the economy in WoW is not a real one, and the resources are infinite - but at least it creates a nice cash flow for new characters just starting out. Somehow, it all works out. (Ed. Feb 2008)

Other World of Warcraft destinations

Deadmines | Stockade | Gnomeregan | Shadowfang Keep | World of Warcraft Slang

World of Warcraft: How to fight

I play World of Warcraft, and I'm not the best, but I enjoy it a lot. I play a mage, currently 47, so I'm made of paper, but I can toss out a lot of damage and have a few tools to keep those nasty men with large sharp objects away. The fun thing about World of Warcraft is that it can be very mobile. Most classes have potent abilities they can use on the move, and many have mobility affecting abilities to give them some space, or close the distance, making WoW a game where staying on your toes is important, and the ranged classes can last a little while in close combat. It's my favorite mmorpg I've played thus far, because of the above mentioned mobility, because of the independence of your character (I can solo effectively into the higher levels, even if I can't get the cool instance loot), and because the timesinks, the moneysinks, and generally the effort needed to advance is far less than that of Dark Age of Camelot, my other mmorpg.

Damodred's writeup is a great description of Blizzard's World of Warcraft(WoW hereafter), but it has a few holes as to fairly important parts of the game. That's what I'll try to address.

Why am I a ghost?: How to not ask that question

So, before we go any further, here's how to keep from dying with alarming regularity against other people.

Know your limits: Do you see a greenskin with a red name over him? Click on him. Look at the lil number next to his portrait. Is it grey? You could kill about six or more of him at once, depending on how far away he is from being green. Is there no number, only a skull? He could take on six or more of YOU. And he might think you look tasty.

Know your class: Have your PvP abilities constantly ready, know how to use them, and know what you're good at, and what other classes are good at. If you're a warrior, you need to get close to your opponent and pound on him. If you're a hunter, keep your distance, sic your pet on him, shoot away. If you're a healer (healing is king in WoW), heal like your life depends on it. Keep the other classes from doing what they're good at! Keep the warrior at bay, keep the hunter from shooting, keep the healer from getting that heal off.

Be Aware: Sometimes, you'll be running around on your own, questing, killing mobs and the like, when BAM! Stabbed in the back by some damnable Night Elf rogue. Not much you can do about this, they like waiting until you have half health and are fighting 2 mobs to strike. I've gotten hit by a guy who waited til I had 10% health before he took me out. I was sad. But, not everyone's a rogue, and even rogues have counters, if somewhat ineffective ones. To protect yourself from ganking as best you can, there are a few things you can do. Stay away from the roads when hunting, for one. If someone running along sees you, or the bear corpses you're leaving behind, they might decide you'd be entertaining to hunt. Keep an eye behind you, so that people can't just run up to you and start chucking fireballs.

Talk to your groupies: If you're in a group, whether questing or looking for people to kill, have a plan for when you meet someone. If you see enemy players, drop a ping on the minimap to your upper right about where they are. It's the best way to locate baddies for your group. Stay with your group. If you're a caster, and getting smacked by a rogue, don't just run off into the distance, abandoning your allies to their fates. Use what abilities you have to give yourself room, and give your friends a couple seconds time to react.

Be nice to people: Just because you CAN slaughter the orcs indiscriminately doesn't mean you SHOULD. They don't like getting killed, either, and they may well send a posse around to kill you many times over.

Talents: the Means to an End... of Violence!

There's not enough customization in WoW. Sad but true. You get your cosmetic stylings, which are a bit cramped, you get your gear, which a lot of other people will already have, and you get your talents, which need some explaining. Starting at level 10, players can specialize into one of 3 trees. Each class gets their own three trees, and each tree focuses on a different aspect of that class. A mage's fire tree focuses on his primal urge to blow things up, a warlock's demonology tree enhances the demons he calls up writhing from the depths of hell, a druid's feral tree gets in touch with the druid's inner beast. Each level, starting at 10, you recieve a talent point, which you can spend to gain new abilities. As you spend more points in one tree, more talents in that tree become availible. At level 60, you will have 51 talent points. This is not enough to get all the talents, or even more than a few of the good ones, so you have to choose. For most classes, there are powerful one point talents that becomes availible with 20, and 30 points invested. You can only get one 30 point talent, and that means you are unable to get the also powerful 20 point talents in other trees. If you eschew the 30 point talents, you can instead get two 20 point talents, but not three. Again, choices. Talents are the chief way of personalizing your character. A fire mage is a lot different from a frost mage, and there are quite a few variants of both.<\p>

The above website is a good resource for the many talents of WoW, and what they do.

How PvP works: Senseless Beatings!

WoW has two main games - the player versus environment, charging into dungeons and various other evil-people-filled places, from religious human zealots to the remnants of Warcraft III's Scourge to get experience and glowy swords, and (my favorite) player versus player, wherein you ride out against the opposing faction, to crush them like the primitive savages / honourless weaklings they are. It is the PvP that I'll discuss.

So, you have your two teams. They hate each other. You can't attack the people on your own team (aside from the requisite duels), but you can (sometimes) attack the people on the other team. When can you attack them? Usually, when they want to be attacked. Many World of Warcraft servers are labelled 'normal', which means that opposing players are immaterial and invulnerable to your faction until they turn on their 'PvP flag'. When that happens, anyone on your faction who also has their pvp flag on can attack those dirty greenskins / flimsy fleshies. So, on normal servers, player versus player combat will only occur when both parties are fixin' for a fight. But, there are also player versus player oriented servers, and they work somewhat differently.

There are three types of areas on pvp servers, horde controlled, alliance controlled, and neutral. In horde controlled servers, horde players need not fear alliance incursion, as they are untouchable with their flag off. But an alliance player in horde territory is fair game for any member of the horde - his pvp flag is automatically turned on when he is in the area. The same is true, with factions reversed, for alliance territory. Capital cities, starting zones, and a handful of zones offering growth up to about level 25, are all under the control of a particular faction. This means that capital cities and low level zones offer safety from other players. In contested areas, which make up most of the game world, and where every player will have to go eventually, every player has their pvp flag automatically set on, and can be attacked by the opposing faction. And there's nothing stopping some bored level 60 rogue from running into areas populated by low level players and killing all who stand against him. Which happens a lot, sadly, and they can be bastards about it, attacking mostly when you're in combat with a monster, leaving you helpless when you otherwise might have had a chance to at least run away. But maybe you can get someone on your faction to stop by and give our dear rogue a lesson.

This was the situation for most of WoW's current lifetime. Typically, you would see most level 60 characters either conquer dungeons for the loot, or run around the game world, looking for a fight. Sometimes, the high level characters would decide to go after the little ones, with low level characters having little recourse but to run or call for help from level 60s on their side. Luckily, players can be very mobile in WoW, so at any given time, there are probably friendly 60s in your zone who wouldn't mind hunting down gankers. Hence, most PvP combat consisted of small scale battles between players, often a pair of soloers questing in proximity. Occasionally, the Hillsbrad Foothills (an area designed for levels 20-30 of both factions) would become a warzone as zergs of players would collide on the plains between the two towns in the area, Southshore and Tarren Mill. Not much would actually be accomplished in these battles, as complete victory would require the nearly impossible task of defeating the many, many powerful town guards as well as opposing players, and the reward of victory is denying your enemy a town for a couple minutes until the guards respawn in force. People still got a good fight out of it, though.

More than Senseless Beatings: The Honour System

Recently, Blizzard added what they call the honour system. Essentially, when you kill someone who stands a decent chance against you, you recieve an honourable kill(HK), and some contribution points(CP). When you amass enough CPs, you will be promoted into the army of your faction, starting at Scout or Private, and going all the way up to High Warlord and Grand Marshall. Not everyone can be a Grand Poobah, though, as players are ranked within their faction in a sort of ladder system, meaning you need to have more CPs than a certain number of people to become a Grand Poobah of your faction. More rank means more goodies, from the (practically required) trinket that allows you to break a few forms of crowd control every five minutes, to a very speedy mount, to a wide selection of very glowy weapons.

When Blizzard introduced the honour system, most PvP combat shifted from the small scale to the large. The best way for many players to get CPs was to join a zerg. And where's the best place for a zerg? Hillsbrad. On most servers, Hillsbrad became a constant battleground, as players locked themselves in a perpetual back and forth between the two towns. All those people caused a lot of lag in the zone, and Hillsbrad itself became a place for fear for any low level player.

Battlegrounds: Something to Fight For

Most recently, Blizzard introduced two battlegrounds, essentially instanced zones for Horde and Alliance players to fight in, with a specific objective to shoot for. One, Alterac Valley, is a 40v40 zone restricted to level 51-60 players, and is a prolonged battle for control of the valley, using bases, towers, mines, and graveyards as control points. Players can throw themselves against the main force of the opposing faction, or work to improve their faction's base and NPC forces by completing quests in the valley, or capturing mines and other objectives. By winning, you get reputation which gets you closer to being able to buy some pretty nice gear from your NPCs. The second, and the one I have experience with, is Warsong Gulch. Warsong Gulch is a game of Capture the Flag. You have your two bases, you run back and forth between them trying to get their flag and trying to keep them from getting yours, the winner being the team with three captures. It's fast-paced and intense, with rounds usually lasting under a hour. It's fun. Any player at 21 or above can go into a battleground, and will be placed with players around their level. Level ranges are 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60. You can get a little experience, from turning in an item when you win, and gain reputation from winning, which will land you a few consumable items, such as potions.

Most players who want to fight their fellow man now go to the battlegrounds. Small scale fights still happen, as does ganking, but the zergs are mostly dead (except in Alterac Valley!). The battlegrounds simply give better incentives than fighting in the non-instanced world.

Conclusion: Or, Time for Senseless Beatings!

I've always enjoyed PvP in WoW, but it's gotten a nice facelift recently, and some actual incentives to not be an ass and kill helpless lowbies. I enjoy it more than I did DAOC's New Frontiers, and THAT was a hell of a lot of fun, what with the castle sieging and three cornered fights.

I have two main characters right now, a gnome mage on Burning Blade, and a Tauren warrior on Tichondrius. If you play on those servers, let me know.

World of Warcraft is Blizzard Entertainment's entry into the insanely lucrative Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game market. Offering players the ability to choose among 13 races from two different, perpetually warring factions and exploration of an enormous and diverse world, World of Warcraft peaked at 12 million subscribing users, each one paying a recurring fee of about US$14 per month. Originally released in 2004, the game has gone through four major revisions since then, adding new territory and new playable races, updating the expansive storyline and mythology, and occasionally restructuring the world map. Minor revisions are also frequent, addressing issues with balance and fun, but because the game changes so often, there's a lot of obsolete and incorrect information floating around, even on the major sites like WoW Wiki and WowHead.

And I'll tell you what, if you're looking for a way to kill massive amounts of time, this is the way to do it.

After EverQuest was launched in 1999, it quickly earned the nickname EverCrack, referencing the addictive quality of the game. Media reports were filled with stories about people skipping school and work to play, greatly affecting their quality of life and productivity. I swore at the time that I would never subscribe to an MMORPG. As other games were released to increasing subscriber levels and increasing media attention, up to and including parents neglecting their children's care, I counted myself lucky that I hadn't gotten started.

Then I cut off part of my thumb with a utility knife. Oh, the pain, the pain... for days it was almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. My left thumb was almost useless, restricting my options for distraction. I really needed something to burn through the hours while my thumb healed, and anything to keep my mind off of it was welcome.

I vowed 12 years ago never to subscribe to an MMORPG, but World of Warcraft is now free to play, up to level 20. You see, the first hit is always free, then they start charging you after you're hooked. Less scrupulous purveyors of affordable entertainment have known this since time immemorial. Hoping to turn the notorious time sink to my advantage, I downloaded the trial version and started up a Troll Warlock.

I immediately discovered how addictive these games can be. You see, the trick to MMORPGs is that you've always got something to do — there's always some goal to reach, or some skill to level up, or some achievement badge to earn, or some storyline to run through. Individually, each of these tasks will take less than half a hour, but they pile up quickly, encouraging you to grind through them one at a time until they're done. But it's never done, oh no, when you finish one quest you're usually either given another, or told to go to another part of the map to find another city with tasks that need to be accomplished, only in need of a lone hero to face the challenge.

Addiction: Storyline

World of Warcraft builds on the storyline from Blizzard's Warcraft franchise, starting from Warcraft: Orcs and Humans back in 1994. A relatively simple Real-Time Strategy game compared to modern installments, Orcs and Humans had a relatively simple plot, more of an excuse than anything else, driving the conflict forward. It was a hit, and spawned the sequel Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and its expansion Beyond the Dark Portal, detailing what happened after the Orcs won the first game and the Humans rallied for a counter-attack with their elf and dwarf allies against the new Orc allies, the trolls and ogres. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne massively expanded the mythology of the Warcraft universe, making the Orcs a more sympathetic race in the process, victimized and persecuted by past mistakes and demonic corruption.

It's clear that Blizzard had none of the current background and storyline planned out from Orcs and Humans, the plot was built piecemeal as necessary to advance and expand the games. However, they did manage to put together a cohesive narrative and detailed cosmology to glue together all of the various elements they added over the years with a minimum of retcons and contradiction. The result is a complex and detailed history about a mad titan who seeks to destroy the very universe he helped create and the critical role the world of Azeroth plays in his Burning Crusade to destroy creation. Each of the races has a background explaining their motivations and the conflict between the two factions.

And each of the 13 races in the game (six Orcish Horde, six Human Alliance, and one "neutral" race that can join either faction) plays through their own separate section of the storyline as a sort of training ground to learn the game. How far this goes varies from race to race, most of them can easily take you past level 20 before joining the generic faction storyline, but others such as the gnome storyline only last a handful of levels before joining up with the dwarf plot, and the worgen similarly join up with the night elves. Although there's little reason to continue along with the plot you're "supposed" to, joining up with (for example) the draenei plot is a bit awkward as the storyline assumes you are a draenei and have been through their introductory quests. You could spend weeks playing the game just to play through the various plotlines and learn what each race hopes to achieve.

Addiction: Quests

The real push for addiction, though, is the quest system. After the opening narration for your race, the first thing that happens is that you're given a simple quest. Upon completion, you're given another one, and then another. At some point you'll notice that another character close by will also want to give you a quest, and this is where the game sinks its claws in.

The overwhelming majority of quests are of the "go over there and kill X of these mobs" variety (sometimes disguised as "get me X of these items", for which you will need to kill at least X mobs to collect since drop rates are usually less than 100%), but often a second character will add "say, as long as you'll be in the area, could you do this for me?", netting you extra experience, items and gold. Sometimes you can have three or four quests that all take place in the same area, with different people asking you to kill mobs, loot items, gather hidden treasures, and perform some generic "action" on a terrain feature (whether it's re-activating a long dormant crystal, burning a mummy, turning a valve, or poisoning food stores, it's all the same thing — your mouse cursor turns into a yellow gear, you click on the item, and after a second or two you are informed of success). This can easily make you feel like you're saving time, rather than just frivolously wasting it away more efficiently. Tip: Always accept all available quests immediately or you'll find yourself going back to areas you already explored and fought through again (especially quests from items you picked up or looted).

Once you've cleared the quests from one area, you're pointed to the next area to go do the higher-level quests over there. You are never left wondering what you're supposed to do next or how to go about it, it's always clearly spelled out for you. Your map will even display the general locations you need to go to in order to look for hidden things. You're rarely lost or confused and in a near-constant state of accomplishment and reward.

Travel time is a huge consideration. Up to level 20, you'll get most places you need to go by walking, and it takes considerable time to get from one location to another. Exploring the map will take even longer. In addition, if you get off the main roads, wandering monsters must be avoided or fought through, increasing your travel time. To get from one major city or region to another, however, flying beasts can be hired at surprisingly reasonable prices to transport you around quickly, but they only travel between general areas, not to specific quest locations.

At level 20, you can learn how to ride animals such as horses or dinosaurs, cutting your travel time considerably and keeping you largely safe from wandering monsters (although some races and classes such as worgen and druids have other, earlier options). This is conveniently the free trial level cap, giving you a taste of exploration of the expansive world while keeping you too low-level to actually experience most of it. Even later in the game, you can learn to ride flying mounts, which not only keep you completely safe from wandering monsters, but also fly right over terrain you would otherwise have to go around.

Addiction: Professions

An optional mechanic in World of Warcraft is learning professions. Although not necessary by any means, each one provides a unique benefit to your character. Each character can select two of the eleven primary professions in addition to learning the four secondary professions. Each profession is leveled up by practicing it, for example the First Aid profession is leveled up by taking linen cloths looted from enemies you defeated and making bandages from them, which you can use to heal your character. At higher skill levels, the basic skills eventually stop giving you skill points for practicing them and you move up to learning and practicing more advanced and useful skills, for example creating antivenin from venom sacks looted from slain scorpions.

The primary skills come in two broad categories, gathering and production, and most characters put a compatible pair together. For example, Herbalism pairs with Alchemy or Inscription by allowing your character to gather the herbs necessary to produce the reagents or inks used in those professions. Otherwise you need to buy the ingredients gathered by other players at an auction house, which can be expensive and have an unreliable supply (on the other hand, a small fortune can be made selling gathered materials to relatively wealthy, high-level players looking to level up their profession skills).

Building up skill points in your professions takes lots of time. Gathering the materials requires finding them around the map or killing and looting mobs for them, both of which eat the minutes away. Even the Fishing profession, which requires nothing more than a pole and a body of water, takes up to twenty seconds for each cast, meaning an investment of 15 minutes just to reach the second skill level (and the time investment goes up from there). For the other professions, most of the gathering can be done as a distraction while working on other quests, although you may find yourself slaughtering low-level mobs indiscriminately when you just just a little more boar meat or linen cloth to level up your profession.

One quick tip I should mention, some of the nicer production profession recipes in Blacksmithing, Tailoring, and Engineering require light leather, which their associated gathering professions do not provide. This can be very difficult for low-level players to obtain, so if you want to make those recipes I suggest starting out with the Skinning and Leatherworking professions. This will allow you to collect 5-10 light leather (more would be overkill) very quickly, at which point you could unlearn those professions and learn the ones you actually wanted.

Addiction: Raids and Instance Dungeons

When you need a break from single-player quests, multi-player instance dungeons and raid groups offer non-stop action and teamwork to get through a gauntlet of enemies and mini-bosses to defeat some powerful boss at the end. A tool built in to World of Warcraft allows you to get in line to collect a group of people to run through your choice of dungeons, with anywhere from five (for instance dungeons) to forty (for the larger raid groups) players cooperating.

The basic strategy is for a player known as the "tank" to attract all the attention and get the mobs pounding on him to the exclusion of the other team members, while the "healer" keeps him from dying and the "DPS" (damage per second) players do the majority of the killing while trying not to "draw aggro" (attract the mob's aggression) away from the tank. This is done with a series of carefully controlled "pulls" (attracting the attention of a small group of mobs without attracting other, nearby mobs to join the battle and overwhelm the team through numbers). If any player fails to perform his function properly, it can result in a "wipe" (getting the entire team killed).

Raids provide some of the best rewards in the game in terms of experience, items, and gold. A typical five-man instance dungeon uses one tank, one healer, and three DPS, while raids use larger groups made of up to 8 five-man teams.

Another quick tip, for some reason the DPS role is by far the most popular for players although I find it the least interesting — the sole strategy being to maximize your damage output without drawing aggro off the tank. This means that healers and tanks have much shorter wait times in the dungeon finder queue, because the DPS players are usually waiting on them to join. While healing can be kind of fun, it's largely a matter of managing your mana while trying to keep the team healed efficiently — you're mainly watching green bars go down and making them go back up again while trying to stand well clear of the action. The tank role is the most interesting, always at the center of the action and responsible for keeping the rest of the group safe, although when things go wrong the tank absorbs the bulk of the blame (fairly or not).

Addiction: Pokémon

Remember how much fun you had and how many hours you spent catching 'em all? With the Mists of Pandaria expansion, you can now play Pokémon in World of Warcraft with the Battle Pet system. Unfortunately, Pokécraft is not available to the trial accounts, so I can only say that based on the YouTube videos, it's pretty much what it sounds like.

Addiction: Gold

Gold is the basic unit of currency in World of Warcraft, being worth 100 silver, which is in turn worth 100 copper. The free trial version limits players to 10 gold, which a player will probably approach around the time they reach the free trial level cap of 20. There are many, many ways to earn gold, including running quests, looting enemies, and creating items to sell or auction with your professions. Unlike many similar games, World of Warcraft does not allow players to buy gold with real-world money.

In order to buy increasingly powerful armor, weapons, and bonus items, a player needs a constant influx of gold. The way Blizzard Entertainment wants this to occur is for the player to play the game — completing quests, running dungeon raids, and selling or auctioning items you can make. This takes a long time, though, and some players have found alternatives.

The practice of "gold farming" involves giving your account password to someone else, usually in a country with low labor costs but a good computer infrastructure such as China, so he can play the game for you, grinding through hours of repetitive, high-profit gameplay to earn gold for you in exchange for real-world money. Alternately, you can purchase powerful items on real-world auction sites (as opposed to World of Warcraft's in-game auction system) such as eBay for real money. Both of these practices are against Blizzard's license agreement and Blizzard may take action against your account for it.


So the game is fun and addicting, why not buy a subscription and keep playing?

Well, it's fun and addicting because it's shamelessly manipulative, keeping my brain in a constant, low-level reward state by giving me a series of simple tasks that can, individually, be completed quickly. I'm very much aware of how carefully calculated and exploitative the game is at every moment, and I'm torn between the shame of falling for it and the pleasure of falling for it.

Still, there are a few things that do bother me about the game that aren't quite right.

Challenge: For the first 20 levels at least, the game is carefully tailored to provide a low level of challenge at all times, and there's a very fine line between challenging and impossible. Everything in the game has an experience level rating, and you generally can't defeat anything more than two or three levels above your character's level, at least not alone. As long as you follow the quests in the order provided, you're generally slaughtering your way through a series of enemies that, individually, pose no real threat to you. Your character heals all damage taken and regenerates all mana in between fights, so each fight is its own self-contained moment with no consequences extending to the next one. The challenge is learning how to pull mobs into single combat with you without letting them gang up — in many cases even two mobs can overwhelm and kill your character unless you have some kind of crowd control ability that allows you to run away.

Death: On those rare occasions when mobs manage to gang up on you, death is almost meaningless. Your ghost shows up at the nearest graveyard and an arrow on your mini-map points you directly toward your corpse so you can resurrect and continue your quest. You lose nothing except 10% of your equipment durability; not the items you've collected, not your gold, and barely any time, just the travel time to go find your corpse. While the durability penalty for death is much higher than ordinary combat, you still need to die several times before repairs become mandatory, and even then only if you aren't replacing it with better armor anyway. While this does keep the game from ever giving you a sense of failure or disappointment, it also affects the thrill of avoiding any possible setbacks, since the consequences for failure are few and minor.

I never feel powerful: My first role-playing game was the original Final Fantasy. A few hours into the game, if you have a red or black mage in your party, you can learn your first multi-target spell, FIR2, which can obliterate entire groups of enemies at once. Suddenly, those packs of six to nine wolves that had been causing so much frustration could be wiped out with one impressive attack. It made you feel powerful for the first time in the game. World of Warcraft doesn't have a moment like that, instead focusing on a steady level increase over the hours. Sure, you get more abilities and spells as you go, but there isn't a specific moment you can point to and say "This, here, is where I started to feel powerful", no spell that removed an annoyance that had been causing you problems up until that point. The closest the game comes to this is giving you the ability to ride a mount at level 20, decreasing travel time and allowing you to run past most wandering enemies.

I don't feel useful: Of course, being a massive multiplayer game, completing a quest can't actually change anything. The next player who comes along also needs to be able to complete that quest. Kill a boss monster, and he respawns in a few minutes. Slaughter a village of enemies, and they come back. Rescue a captured ally, and he's back in the cage the next time you look. There's no permanence to your actions and anything you do is undone in minutes. You're expected to move on to the next series of quests and never look back to say "That wasn't like that when I got here, I made that better."

Multiplayer gets in the way of solo questing: The multiplayer aspect of World of Warcraft just gets in the way during solo quests. At least up to level 20, where the free trial ends, all the quests can be completed alone. You can, but don't need to, team up with real-world friends or on-line members of your guild to run through them more quickly or at a lower level, but for the most part all the other players do is get in your way. If you get to a dungeon, cave, or mine a few minutes after another player has just gotten there, you might walk through finding a string of corpses instead of the enemies you expected to fight. While this doesn't sound bad, remember that the enemies respawn after a while so the next player can fight them. This might happen while you're right in the middle of them all. Boss characters have to respawn quickly to give everyone a chance to kill them, leading to an odd sort of immersion-breaking queue of players waiting their turn (the game mechanics do make kill-stealing impossible, though). Another player running a collection quest next to you might grab the items you need, forcing you to wait for the items to respawn. You don't really get anything in return for these annoyances. The MM part of the MMORPG only comes into effect with the auction house, battle pets, player versus player fights, dungeon raids, and battlegrounds — and while it works very well for them, all of these thing are outside of the quest system.

Repetitiveness: This game is incredibly repetitive. Nearly all the quests are slight variations on "go there and kill X mobs" (the developers being well aware of it, as the game contains several in-jokes and references to the "twenty bear asses" meme). The combat itself is almost the same every time, changing only when new abilities are gained on your way up the experience levels. Although every race and every class, even priest and warrior, can fight its way equally well through the quest system, the way each class will do so is the same slog. Buff yourself, pull a mob, debuff the mob, kill the mob — all done with the same five or six buttons in the same order every time. All the variety is in the racial storylines, class abilities, and profession activities and bonuses.


Quitting is hard. There's that one last quest in your quest log you haven't finished yet, that achievement you've almost earned, that next dungeon you haven't raided yet, or another skill level to learn in your profession if you just had a few more raw materials. I've almost finished exploring this territory, what does the next one over look like? Maybe I want to try being a healer today instead of a tank, see what that's like. I haven't tried PvP yet, there's this new Battlegrounds system for massive player armies to fight over territory, that sounds fun. What exactly is the deal with Murlocs, anyway?

There's just so much to do in this game, and Blizzard is adding new features regularly.

Maybe just one more dungeon.

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