Friday 21 February 2014

World of Warcraft: Starter Edition

Most people who read my blog or just know me in general would know I'm not a big World of Warcraft fan, but I thought I'd go see for myself just how bad it really is given that the "Starter Edition" makes it free for anyone to play to level 20. As much as I'd like to say that I am right and that WoW sucks donkey balls, I can't because it does actually do many things right.

It's come a long way.

Despite being an old game the graphics which you may first go "ewww" to at the character screen does actually work well with the rest of the world when you get in it. Good luck making a decent looking human male though. Not all races are equal however, as you'll find better starting quests for the later races like Worgen, Goblins and Pandaren with their own starter zones and mini cutscenes, and if there's one thing Blizzard does well (other than marketing) it's cutscenes. Comparatively speaking a starting human or orc is pretty ho-hum, especially given that the other races of their faction can come along and do the same starting quests if they so choose.

The addition of "mini games" in the quest lines also does well to break the monotony of ye old fetch this or kill that which we are all familiar with. As an example, suddenly having to go fly a plane and shoot down enemy aircraft is really neat! The best thing they do for me however is the fast travel where you hire a temporary steed who takes you to your chosen location. You can't control the ride, but the ride keeps you in the world - moving you from point A to point B. Same goes for the said mini-games. Even if you are drifting in and out of instances it is so seamless and it really does its best to keep you immersed.

Ironically the only place where it falls down for me is the combat, where you will spend more time waiting to cast a spell, waiting for energy to attack, or waiting for an attack to activate instead of actually fighting. To top it off your character will "helpfully" tell you so. Repeatedly.

"It's too far."
"I need to target something."
"I need more energy."
"I can't do that yet."
"It's not ready yet."

And then when you do get the rhythm of things it becomes very much like remembering a keycode to defeat opponents. Oh, a wolf? Thats a 152. Hmm a naga mage? I believe thats a 1452152 and so on. It's facepalmingly stupid.

Despite that I give the Starter Edition four out of five orc skulls. If you haven't tried WoW out then I think you should, I mean - I did. Is it enough to get me to PAY for the rest of the game though? Nope, but that's just me. Maybe you are easier parted with your money.


  1. Mrs Bhagpuss and I waited five years before we tried WoW. We'd heard it was insultingly easy and looked ugly. Eventually we found ourselves between releases on our MMOs of choice and stuck for anything new to do so we gave it a try.

    And guess what? It's really good. All those millions who made it the success it is? They aren't idiots. We thoroughly enjoyed the three or four months we spent there. In the end I ran out of steam at about level 70 or so. I didn't like the Burning Crusade zones nearly as much as the original world and while the WotLK zones were better I'd lost my commitment by the time I reached them.

    Your comments on combat are interesting. I found the combat perfectly fine but I am always at a loss to understand the extremely high praise it gets for responsiveness. I never noticed it being any "tighter" or "crisper" than a dozen other MMOs I've played.

    I'd happily play WoW again now I've had a long break. Indeed, I did play the Starter edition last year and completed all the Goblin starter area, which is very entertaining. I really should go back and do some more one of these days...

    1. Coming from more modern "active" combat games where you need to dodge or block and there's no auto attack the WoW system felt really slow. It's like the character was spending more energy telling me why they couldn't do something instead of just doing it. That's how I felt anyway.

      Obviously the highest I reached was level 20 as that was the end of progression for me, but I did do it on multiple chars and tried all the starting zones out, effectively consuming all that was free. Hopefully they bump up the free levels as that would draw me back, I mean why not - apparently the game starts at 90 now right? :P

  2. I'm glad you liked it. I tried out the starter version not long ago, My friend wanted to try it out, and I knew that if I brought up recruit-a-friend it would turn him away. I knew that had he accepted recruit-a-friend, I would end up in heirlooms, and just rush him through the content.

    So I gritted my teeth and decided to level up with him and experience WoW like I did all those years ago, the spartan way. No addons, no guildies, no nothing. The only problem is that even though I have him on my friend list, we still cannot form a party since it is only a starter edition. So we end up killing twice as much of everything as we would otherwise.

    We are currently around level 9. I let him explore the world, run around, chase after murlocs. I only take the initiative when he does not know where to go. The other night we were jumping from a Sunsail Anchorage. I jumped first, to show him how to do it, and survived, He jumped after me, apparently a bit too much to the left, missed the deep water, and died. It was fun as he tried to locate his corpse in a whole new bleak and grey world.

    I also try not to force WoW on him. I let him suggest for us to go and play WoW instead of LoL or Hearthstone. We could say I am making a long-term player out of him :P

    1. I think Murlocs are the highlight of the Warcraft experience for me thus far, being the most memorable for that little cute sound clip of theirs. :P

      As a free loader I've done as much content as the game would allow, reaching level 20 on a few toons and making one of each race to experience the start areas of all (though I wouldn't replay content with an alt, like gnome/dwarf and orc/troll).

      I'd probably play more... if I didn't have to pay for it. :P