In November 2008, I purchased World of Warcraft and its newest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.
This was my first journey into Azeroth and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with WoW, the most popular MMORPG to ever spike the sales of Doritos and Mountain Dew. I spent two months exploring the universe and promptly ceased communication with anyone who was not existent inside the game itself, finally deciding that I had to stop unless I wanted to wake up behind a dumpster praying for a wifi connection.
Almost four years later, I have fond memories of my brief time with World of Warcraft. I no longer have the time to commit and dedicate to a massive game such as an MMORPG, but the fact that WoW is still played by nearly ten million people is a testament to how damned fun the game is and always has been.
Let’s figure out just what the hell the appeal is to World of Warcraft.
Having never been a PC gamer at any point in my life, I had no reference point for the awesomeness of WoW. I played Final Fantasy XI online on the Playstation 2 for about half a year, which was nowhere near enough time to justify owning it. Furthermore, although I enjoyed FFXI, it was notorious for not being friendly to noobs like myself. I am not a social person in real life, and I sure as hell was not going to open myself up to criticism and/or help from others in the online world. I floundered with FFXI and unless I choose to dive back in with the Xbox 360 version, I would have one hell of a time trying to find a used PS2, network adaptor, hard drive and copy of the game.
You will understand my apprehension when firing up World of Warcraft and waiting however long it took to patch and update so that I could create my Night Elf. After adapting myself to the mouse-and-keyboard configuration and whining over the fact that my thumbs were not resting on analog sticks, I poked around the village and began to figure out how to battle and kill. I took my first quest and earned experience points. It seemed like I was repeating this process for a bit and then, without warning, six fucking hours had passed.
I will never argue with someone who tells me that a lot of playing WoW revolves around performing the same tasks over and over again…run to an area, kill/collect/find x amount of enemies/items/objects, occasionally report back to the person who originally assigned you said task. On paper, it’s boring. In execution, it’s like heroin. The lush environments of Azeroth suck you in and will not release its grip until you realize you have lost weight sitting in your chair or pissed yourself after placing an additional level above the priority of getting up for a bathroom break.
Also, I have a thing for elves.
The main reason World of Warcraft works so damn well is that it does what every video game is supposed to do: allow you to do something not possible in real life. Whatever shit job you work, whatever bad decisions you have made in life can be ignored behind the eyes of your character. Instead of asking people “credit or debit?” you can decide if you want to skin the animal you just killed or quickly escape from the bear creeping up behind you. MMORPGs like WoW reward dedication, and the amount of time you spend with it will dictate how powerful and knowledgeable your character becomes.
More importantly, it lets you do this all at your own pace. My complaint about FFXI practically requiring me to join a group was nowhere to be found in WoW; I could run around on my own for as much as I pleased, and if I got myself killed it was because I had ventured into dangerous territory clearly marked as such. If it appeals to others to form up, the community is always friendly and inviting to people just getting started after all this time.
This is the one thing I believe PC gaming, MMORPGs specifically, will always have as an advantage over consoles: friendship among strangers. I never felt alienated or lost in World of Warcraft if I had a question about where to go or what to do; someone always lended me a hand and wished me well as they set off for a quest 30 levels higher than mine. Try going on Black Ops II when that comes out and asking some random person online about the layout of a map. Go ahead, I’ll wait here while you cry about how much of an asshole they were.
The amount of expression you can put into your character also helps to build a sense of personality in WoW. Despite the fact that you are restricted to a certain number of races, your clothing and color options are numerous to the point that you will rarely run into somebody who looks exactly like you. This helps to make your experience in Azeroth unique despite the fact that millions of people are running around you doing the same thing.
Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion to be released for World of Warcraft. When you consider the amount of bitching people do every day about game companies milking us with DLC, you have to wonder how often PC gamers laugh at people who blow money every month on add-ons for games that will not be supported in a matter of time. WoW has been online for close to eight full years and has shown no signs of slowing down while the only money required is a monthly subscription. Blizzard has been doing it right for a long time.
I can honestly say there is no way in hell I would be able to jump back in to World of Warcraft. With an increasing pile of other games I feel compelled to play through, I would not be able to appreciate everything now available for the total WoW experience. The five levels you are able to advance in Mists of Pandaria will take skilled players even longer than before to accomplish and I wish all of them the best of luck.
I will, however, continue to fantasize about night elves. That will never stop.
Night Elf Cosplay: Geeksaresexy.net