Saturday, June 13, 2009

World of Warcraft: The first step is admitting it's okay to play the game

Hey, look! It's a guest post from neko-chan! Enjoy!

Shiny gem caveYou love World of Warcraft. This is a fact; you just have not realized it yet. Whether you are a veteran gamer geek well-versed in the art of pwning, or a non-gamer who knits and bakes delicious chocolate cakes, you will find something to love in WoW. WoW is an interactive online game which lets the user control a character in a sword-and-sorcery-style setting - only this setting also includes robot-chickens, flying manta rays, and voodoo witch-doctors.

First off, the basics: You will need a computer with at least 10 gigs of space free. (This may mean you’ll have to transfer your massive collection of Harry Potter fan-fiction to disc, but trust me, it will be worth it). I also suggest investing in a shiny graphics card if you can barely play text parsers on your current system.

Turtle boatNext, you will need to buy the game itself. You can technically get by with just the original release, but to get the full experience you should add on both expansion packs (Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King). This will cost in total about $80 for everything if you get the Battle Chest boxed package and the separate Wrath upgrade, (and they will throw in a couple strategy guides as a bonus). Not too shabby, considering. There is also a $15 a month fee to play the game.

Now before you get all uppity, consider how much you spend on comics, D&D miniatures, or even junk food each month. I’m sure your answer will be more than a measly $15, so don’t be miserly.

Big statueOkay, so you have the game and you’ve installed it on your computer, now what? The biggest choice you’ll have to make is what faction to play as. There are two main factions: the Alliance, which includes all the standard player races such as night elves, humans, gnomes, dwarves, and draenei (alien demons); and the Horde, which includes all the standard monster races such as orcs, trolls, blood elves, undead, and tauren (minotaurs).

There are also ten different classes to choose from, which allows a huge range of customizability for your character and lets you control your play style – ranged offense, close-quarters bonk, stealth ninja, meat shield, walking box of band-aids, etc.

Casting magicWoW is one of the most successful games of all time because you, yes you, control the game-play. Below, I’ve outlined some options for each type of gamer:

The Classic RPG Player: There are literally thousands of quests in the game, which can be identified by NPCs with exclamation points over their heads. The variety and creativeness of the quests still amaze me. WoW tips its hat to the traditional formulas of “fetch,” “escort,” and “grinding” quests; however it also lets you do awesome things like control giant metal scorpions, fly dragons into mounted combat, or use goblin technology to shrink giants into chibi format.

Dragon in flightCompleting quests will earn you some of the best armor, weapons, loot, and XP available. The overarching plots of the world are also revealed through quests, and will eventually lead you to some of the biggest, baddest end-game dungeons and bosses imaginable.

Another great feature is the free-form exploration of the world map. There are over 50 countries to visit, and each country has multiple areas of interest to uncover and investigate.

Surfing on a crocodile
The Point-and-Click Adventurer:
While you may not be able to lick everything, you can still interact with many of the objects in the game. In fact, some quests can only be picked up by clicking on hard-to-find items. Additionally, you can receive humorous messages from talking with and poking various NPCs. You can also perform many emotes with your character such as dancing, telling jokes, sleeping, and flirting – which can be extra-hilarious in a dungeon or boss-battle.

Finally, pop-culture and geek references are hidden throughout WoW – ranging from Marvel’s Wolverine to Monty Python. Basically, if something can be made fun of, you can be sure it makes a cameo in WoW somewhere. [Editor's note: I wasn't aware that Alex was in WoW. Must investigate further.]

Loghun, Render of Flesh (AKA Wolverine)
The First-Person Shooter: Enough of this sissy stuff; you want to pwn some noobs and mobs with your leet hax! The in-game camera angle is customizable, making it easy to scroll into first-person mode at will. Also, players can hook up headsets for live conversation with friendly players.

Entire game servers are devoted to “Plaver vs. Player” combat, letting you punk any members of the opposite faction that stray your way. That’s right folks, you can attack other player-characters as well as game-generated enemies!

Likewise, on all servers there are co-operative battlegrounds, dungeons, raids, and arenas where teams can strategically blast and slash their way through battle while protecting strategic resources. If you prefer questing solo, there are plenty of areas filled with game-generated goons that require sneaking, sniping, and a variety of weapons to infiltrate.

The All-Around Action Star: If you are the type of person who likes a challenge, then WoW can definitely deliver. The same players who count frame rates in Soul Calibur, and who can pull off 30-button combos, will find classes like the rogue right up their alley. By knowing when to use stealth effectively and striking an opponent from multiple directions, advanced players can score more damage and work toward super-awesome finishing moves. Similarly, there exist both elite bosses and puzzle bosses that require more teamwork, precise timing, and coordination of movement than standard enemies.

The Non-Gamer: You don’t like fighting or care about leveling, but you can still like WoW. Your character can learn professions such as cooking, fishing, tailoring, alchemy, or enchanting. Thus you can actually bake a cake or haul in a 15-pound sea bass as valid game activities. You can sell your crafted goods at an eBay-style auction house to make money. You can also buy and find all kinds of crazy neat gear to trick out your character's wardrobe.

Are you someone who is addicted to AIM or Twitter? There is an in-game chat feature so you can talk with people around the world. You can also form guilds of like-minded players with their own tabard, bank, and chat forum.

Still bored? Try partaking in holiday events such as Midsummer, Hallow’s End, or Brew Fest. These yearly celebrations offer unique quests and rewards that cannot be gained from normal game-play. Or try visiting the monthly Darkmoon Faire, where you can earn reputation and prizes for your crafting skills.

If all else fails, earn achievements by visiting the barber-shop to give your character a new look, buying a pet dragon whelpling to follow you around, hugging squirrels, or throwing your character off a cliff and surviving. Or try turning on options such as the tutorial or the tip prompts if you are completely stuck deciding what to do.

If you still aren’t convinced by all this, you can try a 10-day trial for FREE through the official website. F...R...E...E! (Just don’t blame me if you fail your college exams.)

Did I mention you can ride a dinosaur and disguise yourself as a pirate?

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