The introduction of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have spawned a huge community of online gamers. Ever since its introduction in the late 20th century, MMORPGs have evolved, increasing both in number and complexity. Though they all share similar elements, each MMORPG is defined by its own unique set of stories, characters, and setting.
Every dedicated online gamer has his/her own share of encounters in playing MMORPGs. Who would forget the intricate job system of Ragnarok Online, the breathtaking environment of Flyff, the action-packed skirmish in RAN Online, and the cute characters of Dragonica. I’ve personally played a few MMORPGS and watched a lot others being played by my friends.
Of all the MMORPGs that I’ve played, World of Warcraft (WoW) is the sole game that made a huge impact on my gaming experience. A friend introduced me to WoW when I was still playing Ragnarok Online. I was initially reluctant to try it due to its ridiculously large size (of 25 Gigabytes), but once I tried it, I never went back.
WoW is a full 3D MMORPG package set in the world of Azeroth. Here, like in most MMORPGs, players create their own characters to start their journey in the vast world filled with players from different parts of the world. I expected a journey like the one I had in Ragnarok, but playing it proved me wrong.
Let’s say you decide to try on WoW, and you download, install, and patch the game fully, then creating your own unique account. Logging into the game for the first time takes you to the character creation interface. WoW allows you to choose between ten races, equally distributed into two opposing factions (we’ll get into that later). Each race is unique in appearance, abilities, home town, and a lot of other things. What makes WoW stand out is that aside from choosing a race, you would also need to choose a unique class (equivalent to the job in other games). Each job has its own unique set of abilities, armor sets, weapon sets, and limitations. Some are geared towards combat (melee, ranged, sneak-attack), some in magic, while some specialize in healing. Hybrid characters also exist. This other option further allows diversity in the game. Names are also unique for each race, as you can only choose from a set of names specific for each.
After choosing a race, class, name, and initial appearance. You may also change your character’s initial appearance. Each race has its own set of features that you can change (body hair, head hair, horn, fangs, eyes... you name it!), giving a player total freedom on what body appearance he/she may prefer.
After finalizing your character, you are taken into a brief introduction/history of the race that you took, giving you a sense of becomingness to the game. The scene then hovers to the hometown of the chosen race, and your journey begins.
One of the first things that a you, a newbie gamer, would notice would be the different interface of WoW. At first, you’ll (more likely) have a hard time moving around, but eventually, you’ll adapt to the movement mechanics of the game. After familiarizing yourself with the user interface, the usually question pops out of you head… “How in the world would I start?!”. Fortunately for you, Wow is designed to be user (and newbie) friendly. Well yes, you’ve probably browsed reviews on the game and got overwhelmed with its complexity, but that shouldn’t hold you back. WoW is innately complex (which what makes it fun right?), but its complexity is structured in a way that each step in learning it can be learned almost passively as you play.
You start of in the middle of a town. Just as the “where do I start?” question pop out of your head, a game pop-up tip guides you to a quest giver. Yes, you guessed it right, the game starts out in a quest, not in grinds (which will be explained in the next section). Quest givers and quest areas are well indicated in the map, saving you time from googling on quest and location guides (the heck that googling while playing). Quests can also be monitored via a separate window (or on our screen, if desired), allowing you to check your progress.
The interface in WoW is easy to learn and manage. Windows are tucked neatly into small responsive icons. A large array of options allows you to track your progress, from character profiles to in-game achievements. The mini-map of the game also allows custom tracking and labelling, saving you the time of wandering around aimlessly. As with other games, hot-keys are highly customizable. In a nutshell, WoW allows you to customize the way you see almost anything on your screen, and how you interact with the environment.
Gameplay: Levelling Up
Levelling up in WoW is easy, efficient and fun. Levelling up is more of quest-based than grind based. You can say goodbye to monotonous killing of hundreds of monsters for the sole purpose of gaining experience. In fact, you can get to level 85 (maximum level at the last patch) by solely relying on quests.
Quests in WoW are given by quest givers scattered along any cities and towns. Each quest is as unique as its giver. Some quests need you to simply kill a specified number of certain monsters (and get specific loots from them), while some need you to run errands, transporting items from one person to another. Other quests are more intricate, requiring you to find items literally scattered in the vicinity, or do certain tasks such as capturing/luring creatures. What makes these quests exceptional is that most of them are part of a story, which is connected to the quest giver, or the town where you are performing the quest. If you have played the campaigns of Warcraft, you’ll have a great time learning some history of the past Azeroth, as well as to what is happening to it in the present.
You start with little items, but don’t fret, because survivability in WoW is never a very hard challenge. Monsters in WoW drop consumables that allow you restore HP and SP fast, allowing you to fight monsters even without buying (usually insanely priced) restoration items. Quest givers in WoW are surprisingly “generous and hospitable”. Their scripts are so well written that you’ll actually feel that they care for your future and well-being. After completing quests, quest givers give you rewards, which can be experience, money, equipment, or a combination of any of the previous rewards. In WoW, you’ll rarely be under-equipped, since quest givers will give you what you need so long as you’re diligent enough to complete their quests.
Gameplay: In-game Professions
So lets say you’re a night elf… and you’re priest…. and you’ve been playing for several hours that you’ve reached level 10. You expect to earn money through questing and grinding like what you with your chosen job class do in other MMORPGs. Well, you can do that, but in WoW, you’re given another option to “work”, that is, once you reach level 10, you’re given a chance to professions. Yes, you heard it right… PROFESSIONS! (yes, professions in WoW are different from job class you noob... I mean… newb!).
Professions in WoW are generally categorized into two: gathering and crafting. You can choose only two professions. Since materials for crafting are practically obtained though gathering professions, it is but logical to take one crafting profession, and one compatible gathering profession. An example of gathering profession is Herbalism, where you can gather different herbs from different parts of the (game) world. Herbs can then be processed depending on the crafting profession that you use. Choosing Alchemy would allow you to process you herbs into useful potions. Other profession include Leatherworking (compatible with the skinning gathering profession), Engineering (compatible with mining) and Jewelcrafting (also compatible with mining). These professions allow you to “live an economically fruitful life” in WoW.
Graphics and Music
The Graphics interface of WoW is exceptional. It can be describes as vast and breathtaking. The game world in itself is a literal world, requiring far more than walking to encompass. Transcontinental travel (yes, the world of Azeroth has continents; three in total, aside from the inter-dimensional one) need zeppelins, and long distance intercontinental travel is facilitated by flight transportation (where you can be transported to another site via flying creatures).
The music in WoW is also exceptional. Background music is different for every zone, and each music is reflective to the nature of the region where it is assigned.
The community in WoW is generally friendly and fair. Mast players are sociable and will generally kind enough to entertain question, or even aid you to level up as long as you speak kindly. Cheaters are justly disciplined, as well as spammers and flamers.
Players can engage in competitive PvP events via battleground. WoW offers a variety of battlegrounds, each with its own unique goal. Players a rewarded with honor points after each event, which can be spent on buying high-quality items on dedicated shops.
WoW also has a unique PvP system termed worlds PvP. Here, players from the opposing faction can attack each other in most locations (called contested territories). Worlds PvP gives the worlds of Azeroth a risky touch, which adds to its competitive and exciting environment.
Overall, the World of Warcraft is a huge innovation in the history of MMORPGs. The breathtaking graphics, unique gameplay, and fascinating story that it offers make it an exceptional game. It is a must-try for all gamers. For sure, anyone stepping into this vast mythical world would have an experience of a lifetime, and of course, a hard time stepping out and turning back.