This is the final diary entry in the WoW Me series detailing my experiences in the first 20 levels in the Starter Edition of World of Warcraft. You might want to go back and check out the previous days before starting on this one. If not, just read on!
The first thing you’ll probably noticed is that this diary is condensed from two different days. There is a good reason for that – Day 3 was fucking boring, and just writing about that would make for a crap article. Instead, the following two paragraphs will encapsulate my Day 3 experiences.
For Day 3 I quested a whole bunch, while still not seeing pretty much any human players. Almost all of the quests were the same-old stuff, kill xx/xx, fetch xx/xx etc. There were a few standouts that broke the mold: one quest had me flying on a bat over an island, dropping bombs down on fishmen; another had me manning a cannon on shore while Worgen (think WoW werewolves, but they play for the ‘good’ side) mindlessly swam through the water towards me.
Other than that, there is really not that much to tell. Basically all that kept me going through this was my desire to try one of the dungeons before ending my WoW trial. Once I finally did get to level 15 (the pre-requisite for entering the easiest dungeon) I attempted to use Blizzard’s auto-grouping tool to join a dungeon. This tool searches the entire population of WoW, trying to find a mixed bunch of players (tank, healer, mage etc) and group them together automatically. Since many players are probably trying to play dungeons at any one time, I was slotted into a queue. 20 minutes later, no joy. So I gave up and logged off an extremely boring and anticlimactic Day 3.
A few days later I decided to try again. I figured that instead of trying to join a specific dungeon, I’d use the random dungeon button in the tool and hope for the best. And indeed, 5 minutes later I was automatically whisked away to the Wailing Caverns to begin my dungeon experience! Upon joining I saw 4 other players (its really amazing to see other human players still!) and greeted them in chat. I mentioned something about it being my first dungeon. No response whatsoever – instead the tank runs ahead and starts fighting monsters. Ok, well by this time I’ve mastered Flogalish’s limited moveset and just head into the fray and attempt to backstab our foes while our tank distracts them. Nothing special in terms of gameplay, but it felt great to be actually playing a multiplayer game finally!
The Wailing Caverns themselves are a dark and dreary place. And I don’t mean that in terms of just atmosphere, but really in terms of style and graphics. I truly hope this is one of the ugliest and least interesting of WoW’s dungeons because the Caverns are the definition of visually bland. Its just a big cave with very few unique features and little style.
To be victorious in these shamefully bland Caverns, my party needed to find and kill 3 bosses. As well, there were some optional bosses we ran into and defeated such as the one below. While doing so, I hit the milestone we’ve all been waiting for – level 20! At this point, I was not gaining any more XP and thus it was a bit of a waste to carry on with the dungeon but I didn’t plan on abandoning my party.
We continued on, killing what felt like hundreds of dinosaurs (?), and shape-shifting vampire druids. No one ever died, and really no one was ever in trouble. I’m not sure if we were just too powerful for the dungeon or if it was pure skill. My guess is the first dungeons are dumbed down quite a bit. After killing the 3rd boss and taking the quests back to the NPCs at the start of the cave, I basically said “Peace Out” and started to get ready to leave. The tank in our party told me to wait, the ‘big event’ was yet to come. Ok, a surprise quest – just when you think you’re done with WoW! Clever, Blizzard.
The final quest in the Wailing Caverns consisted of us protecting a Troll Shaman as he purified various areas, altars or whatever. Eventually we got to a small circular area surrounded by water. The Shaman babbled nonsensically and then cast a spell over a vampire druid on an altar. The final boss then appeared – basically an ugly fishman, which looks like an enlarged version of the enemies I dropped bombs on from my flying bat during Day 3. We destroyed him easily, and I got a pop-up letting me know I got some very powerful gear. Yay! The Troll Shaman then disappeared, and my party members followed very quickly. I left the dungeon and was automatically teleported back to my previous location where I took a final screenshot of Flogalish posing with his new gear for posterity. My time with the Starter Edition of WoW was over.
So, after all that how do I feel about WoW? Well, I can tell you that I’m certainly not addicted. When I got that final shiny bit of gear in the last dungeon, I could feel the psychological pinprick of “Cool! If you keep playing this you’ll get more shinies!”, but that was a short-lived feeling. I don’t anticipate returning to Azeroth anytime soon. You hear that Blizzard? I won! Well, until Diablo 3 anyway…
I can respect the world that Blizzard has built with WoW. Its quite well-realized. But I have a real problem with the lack of interaction with other players, as well as the lack of players in general. It doesn’t really matter how compelling the environment is, if WoW is essentially a single-player subscription RPG. That’s not fun and not a good value for $15/month either.
I can’t really respect anything about the questing in WoW though. The questing is so incredibly basic its almost confusing in the sense that millions of users have played through this content without much complaint. In fact, apparently many of the starter areas have been redesigned with Cataclysm – so there is no excuse for such a bare-bones experience.
Finally, in terms of gameplay I don’t feel like there is a ton of depth to WoW. Of course, I can only speak for the experience up to level 20, but to me 15 hours is enough time to put into a game to unlock at least some of its depth. WoW spoonfeeds features and character powers at such a slow rate that I almost fall asleep thinking about it. By level 20 my Rogue used nearly the exact same set of 3 powers that I had at level 5. Perhaps other classes are more complex, but playing a Rogue for the first 20 levels has as minuscule progression.
I’ve talked to Dan about most of these points, and his response is mostly that the game really hits its stride at high-level end-game – when many different raids/dungeons are open to you and PVP consists of more interesting battles. That may very well be true, but its just not worth it to put 100 hours into a game before reaching the interesting portion. I feel like the only way I’d play a MMO long-term is if the entire experience started off very fun and just continued that pattern right to the end. Is that even possible? Or is the genre just too stale? I can’t say yet. But I will say that WoW has certainly piqued my curiosity about current MMOs and I’m wondering whether another game out there might better fit my tastes.
That brings us to the end of the WoW Me series of articles. I hope you liked journeying with Flogalish and myself through Azeroth. Don’t forget to leave me some feedback on the series. You can look forward to some articles in the future exploring my experiences with other MMOs!blizzard, mmo, world of warcraft, wow me