World of WarCraft
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 11/23/04 | Genre: MMO
When I get my hands on a new MMOG, I can usually sit there and play for months and months without getting bored. However after a few months of play, I will eventually run out of things to do or get tired of the normal level grinding. Most Massively Multiplayer Online Games offer very little to do other than kill monsters, gain experience, repair items, buy new equipment, and do the same thing over and over again. Sure these games can be fun but normally only if you are playing with a bunch of people you know. However, Blizzard sought out to do something a bit different with World of WarCraft. Not since 1997's Ultima Online have I been this much in love with a MMOG.
World of WarCraft has players choose whether they want to play The Horde or The Alliance. Each side has some similar characters and some that are unique to each faction. Players can choose to play as Humans, Night Elves, Dwarves, or Gnomes on the Alliance. If they want to play as The Horde, you can choose Orcs, Tauren, Undead, or Trolls as your race. Each specific race gets a unique bonus. This can make the decision even more difficult when selecting your race. After a race is decided on, depending on who you select, you can be one of several different races. These include Druids, Hunters, Mages, Paladins, Priests, Rogues, Shaman, Warlocks, and Warriors. As of the writing of this review, Warlocks, Druids, and Paladins are the hardest classes to play do to a lot of micromanaging you have to do. However, this can change at any point depending on how Blizzard updates the game via patches.
Personally, my two favorite classes are the Warlocks and Druids due to their challenging play. For Warlocks, you can't take much damage but you can summon one of several different pets to aid you in battle. One of the best play tactics with them is to send your pet in to fight when you do Damage Over Time (DOT) spells and Curses on the enemy. Warlocks can also drain health off enemies and funnel health to their pet. They are the only class that can Summon another character to their location with the help of two others. In addition Warlocks can use their Soul Stone to come back to life after dying or give it to a Priest in their party to use should they die.
Druids can take a little bit more damage than a Warlock but are on of the best Healing classes in the game. They also have the ability to transform into several different animal forms. These forms allow them to dish out and take damage like a Warrior, be stealthy and do high Damage Per Second like Rogue, sit back in their normal form and Nuke an enemy like a Mage, or just heal. While they aren't better than any class that specializes in any of these things, the ability for a Druid to do all things makes them very fun to play. They also have the best buff in the game called Mark of the Wild. This gives a ton of extra attributes to players.
I have spent some time with the other classes but not nearly as much as I have with the Druids and Warlocks. We will discuss the other classes in more detail in our Eyewitness section in the future.
The biggest drawback to creating a character is the lack of customization you have. Unlike EverQuest II, there is no way to adjust the height of your character unless you play a little Dwarf or Gnome. There is no way to adjust the body style of their character unless the change the sex. Players also have very few options in making their appearance stand out. There are right at 5 different face types. This means a lot of players can look exactly the same. I complained about this during the beta but assumed Blizzard would fix it by retail. Supposedly it is on their "to do list" but no ETA has been given on when we will have more options.
World of WarCraft attempts to give the players a lot to do. While the big PVP Battlegrounds system has not been implemented, there is some limited PVP against other factions. Blizzard is working to get the full PVP system done by the time most players start hitting level 60 (the current level cap). Besides PVP, players can specialize in up to two crafting forms. One of my favorite combinations is Leatherworking and Skinning. With these two selected, players will be able to make their own leather off enemies they kill and then make equipment that can be sold to NPC vendors or in the big Auction House that are found in the largest cities in the game world. Auctions are a great place to visit if you are needing to buy or sell something. If you are buying, you can look through all of the categories or search for what you are looking for. Some items will have a buyout and some won't. The length of Auction can vary depending on how long the player selects. Creating an auction is just as easy. Simply drag the item you want to sell into a window, set your opening price, the length of the auction, and if you want a buyout.
Items you buy or money you receive from your auctions will be mailed to you. Mailboxes are found in just about every city in the world. You can even send your friends or guildmates a letter with money or items in it.
For a fee, players can create a new guild or can join a guild that they are invited to. It is highly recommended, although not required, that you join a guild. A guild can provide players with support through tips, money, and equipment. They also make great people to talk to in the game and group with.
The Gameplay in World of WarCraft may appear to be like a lot of other MMOG titles. However, the way in which Blizzard implements the Gameplay is unlike any other you have ever played. Players start off in a newbie zone where they are given a few quests. Levels progress very fast for the first fifteen levels. As players complete a quest and return to the quest giver, they are given a significant amount of Experience. For the first time in a MMOG, players actually have an incentive to complete quests because they can gain levels faster than by simply killing enemies. Quests can be a variety of different things. Some of them require you kill a certain number of enemies or collect drops off enemies, some of them require you to escort someone or bring an item, some of them want you to kill a specific monster, etc.
The quest system also constantly reminds you that you are at war with the other faction. A great deal of your quests will involve you killing NPC's that are from the other faction. At this point, there is no way to switch sides or become neutral with the other faction. While there have been hints about this in the past, with no way to even understand the other sides' language, this appears very unlikely.
Death in World of WarCraft is handled very well. Once you die, players transform into a ghost and are brought to the nearest graveyard. There you can choose to respawn but you will lose 25% durability on all items in your inventory and on you. Repairs can cost a significant amount and must be done by a NPC... but depending on where you die, this may be the best option. You can also choose to go back to your body. As a ghost, players move faster than normal so you can usually get back to your body fairly fast. Be careful when returning that you don't respawn if there are any monsters around your body. If so, you will probably die again. If you do choose to go back to your body, you will lose a small amount of durability on items you are currently equipped with. It does not lower durability for items in your inventory though.
Death is handled very well in WoW and you don't have to worry about losing much if you die. I really enjoy the fact that I can explore and not worry about dying and losing experiencing. A frustrating thing for me in Dark Age of Camelot was sometimes dying a few times and ending up with less experiencing after I played for several hours than what I started with. In WoW, you are always making progress.
While World of WarCraft may not have the most areas to explore, there is a ton of content and Blizzard is sure to add more in the coming months.
Visually World of WarCraft is very faithful to the WarCraft series. The world is like a living breathing WarCraft cartoon. Colors are breathtaking and environments change dramatically from area to area and race to race. This gives the player a lot of variety during their travels in the game world.
There is very little to complain about in World of WarCraft. In fact, this is one of the most enjoyable games of the year. I highly recommend you play this game. However, because this is a MMOG, there is a ton of information to keep up with. BradyGames has just the thing every World of WarCraft player needs. Players will find that the 432 page BradyGames World of WarCraft Strategy Guide has all of the maps, tips, stats, and tricks a player needs to navigate the highly addictive world of World of WarCraft. For the first time ever, players can purchase a deluxe version of the Strategy Guide that comes complete with a Horde or Alliance binder. You can then get free updates at their website. Why is this important? Massively Multiplayer Games change all of the time. Since the original Strategy Guide is created at the start of the game, with downloadable updates, players can be updated with all of the latest tips, tricks, and information needed to stay on top of the game.
Like all BradyGames strategy guides, this one is very high quality, beautiful to look at, and built to last as you play through the game.
So run out to your local retailer and pick up a copy of World of WarCraft. Don't forget the Deluxe BradyGames World of WarCraft Strategy Guide while you are there. Also, do remember that since this is an MMOG, a monthly fee will be required after the first month. The base price is around fifteen bucks a month but is cheaper when you purchase more than one month at a time. If you don't have a Credit Card, players can also buy Game Cards at your local retailer for 29.99 for two months of game time.