In the Beginning…
‘For ages, the fallen titan Sargeras plotted to scour all life from Azeroth. To this end, Sargeras possessed the human sorcerer Medivh and compelled him to contact Gul’dan, an orc warlock on the world of Draenor. There, Sargeras’ demonic servants among the Burning Legion worked to corrupt the once – peaceful orcs and forge them into a bloodthirsty army known as the Horde. This cursed force invaded Azeroth through the Dark Portal, a dimensional gateway created by Medivh and Gul’dan, and clashed with the human nation of Stormwind. Aided by the half-orc Garona, human champions like Anduin Lothar fought valiantly to protect their kingdom. Yet, in the end, the mighty Horde shattered Stormwind’s defenses. Amid the city’s tragic fall, Garona betrayed her allies and assassinated King Llane Wrynn, sealing the nation’s defeat.’
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a F2P/monthly subscription-based MMORPG created by Blizzard Entertainment. It was initially released in 2004 and has since released seven expansions. It has managed to retain its popularity against newer games, largely sure to the expansiveness of its lore, world-building, vast variety of tasks, quests and other content, character and platform development, among others. It already boasts thousands of quests, multiple dungeons and a growing and changing landscape, with more quests being added incrementally. It offers both first- and third-person perspectives.
WoW is set in the world of Azeroth and begins four years after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne concludes. In this segment, Thrall is rebuilding his Horde army to claim the region of Durotar, with the Alliance reforming to prevent him from this. Each expansion progresses and unfolds more layers to the story.
Players start by selecting a Realm to play on. Each Realm has its own dedicated server, with each offering a different gameplay experience and language. Players can select from RP and Normal servers:
- Normal mode is safer, as it allows players to toggle between PVP and non-PVP interactions. This means that they can select who and whether they would like to combat an opposing faction member.
- RPGs allow users to focus on developing their characters, as well as engaging with other players’ characters on the server. There are a variety of servers within each category, with each categorized according to the number of players currently logged on to that server. They are rated as low, medium and high population levels. Medium and high servers are more likely to have a wider variety of items for sale and more opportunities for engagement with other players. However, the log-in times also tend to be longer on the bigger servers. Straight RPG servers will come with their own set of rules and guidelines that a player must adhere to so as to avoid being banned from the server.
- Permanent PvP modes can be set on any server by players selecting the War Mode option.
Once connected, new players can decide whether they would prefer to build up their character’s level from scratch by playing through all of the expansions, or simply boosting their characters level. Level boosts enable new players to automatically start from the level cap of the previous expansion; therefore, as the latest expansion is currently the Battle for Azeteroth, players can begin their adventure at level 110, as that was the level cap for Legion. However, level boosters need to be purchased for real-world money.
It is important to note that there is a F2P Starter Edition – allows new players to trial the game up to level 20. This enables players to try-out the game before they buy it, but also limits certain functions, such as the inability to access the Auction House, use Mounts, enter certain public chat channels and participate in quests or areas that have level or expansion requirements.
Once a new player has selected a server, their game will open to the ‘Character Creation’ screen. WoW offers players a choice of 13 races, which are subdivided into 12 classes, with combinations of three main roles and two factions. New players can try out each character at level 100 by playing through a special trial sequence. Each trial has a time cap but will allow them to get a feel for the character before committing to it. However, players can return and play a different character at any point. They can also choose whether or not to boost each character. More character types can be unlocked by fulfilling certain in-game tasks. Each race comes with its own set of abilities.
During the initial character creation phase, player’s can also set their character’s skin color, hairstyle, facial features and gender. While some features, such as the hairstyles can be changed at the barber shop, others, like skin color, cannot. Race and appearance changes can be done through special paid service options. Alternatively, players can create entirely new characters, as each payer can save up to 50 different characters on their account. Each race can choose certain classes, but not others. This is dependent on the WoW lore.
Classes are the RPG adventuring archetypes, some of which are typical such as the Warrior and Druid, while other are unique such as the Demon Hunters. Each class provides the player with a different gameplay style, role capabilities and set of abilities. However, Death Knights are only unlocked once a player has levelled their character to level 55, while Demon Hunters are only unlocked at level 70. Most classes also start in a unique location, meaning that most class adventures are guaranteed to be unique from the onset.
There are three roles, or specializations, in the game, namely Tank, Healer and DPS. The extent of the classes’ roles capabilities vary, with some classes such as the Hunter and Mage, only possessing one role, while others, such as the Monk and Druid can be capable of all three roles. The roles are specified as follows:
Theses characters are tasked with absorbing damage and protecting the Healer and DPSes from acquiring damage. Warriors, Death Knights, Druids, Demon Hunters, and Monks are able to act as Tanks.
A Healer’s main task is to heal other party members from attacks, with priority being given to the Tank. Shamans, Monks, Priests, Druids and Paladins can act as Healers.
- Damage Dealers / Damage-Per-Seconds (DPS)
DPS can be melee or ranged. Some characters have specs for multiple roles, thereby allowing for players to switch between them, if they wish. There are usually 3 DPSs per party, therefore, when in the Dungeon Finder queue, they are the most common position submitted, and therefore have a higher waiting period in quest request queues. All classes are capable of being DPSes.
There are two warring factions in WoW, namely, Alliance and Horde. Factions are not necessarily typecast into ‘good’ versus ‘evil’, as both groups have their own lore and background. However, they do have their own specific traits, that will impact the player’s gameplay and style. Each have their own capital cities and zones.
It is important to note that characters can on form teams with players from their own factions, so any friends wishing to play with one another should be careful to select the same faction when creating their character. Panderas are the only neutral faction that can select their factions at a later point.
Players can only join guilds that are located on the same server that they are playing on. When selecting a guild, players should try to find one that has active participants and scheduled events, otherwise they will just be wasting their time. Other considerations when choosing a guild include whether the player is looking for raid parties, PvP gameplay, or an RPG experience. Different guilds are geared towards players at specific levels, rating and availability. This is important, as players at the same level can grow together and will likely have more tolerance for noob mistakes.
Once a character reaches Level 5, it can acquire two primary trade professions and four secondary professions that they learn through Profession Trainers. Each skill is broken down into two parts: gathering and crafting. Gathering entails collecting the items that are needed to create a particular item. This can be done by either going on quests and looting corpses, buying items, or through other methods such as hunting or harvesting. Primary professions include Alchemy, Inscription, Skinning, Leatherworking, Engineering, Mining and many others. There also secondary professions that players can learn which will compliment their primary professions. For instance, herbalism is useful for both the Alchemy and Inscription trades, as herbs are needed for alchemy recipes, and for inscription inks. Other secondary professions include first aid, archeology and cooking.
With the various skills, player can craft a variety of items including, armor, weapons, potions, buff scrolls and many other items. As players are limited n the number of professions available to them, they will obviously need to buy or acquire other items in other ways. This includes trading directly with other players, putting crafting items up for sale in or purchasing other players’ crafted items from the auction house or looting. Professions can be forgotten in order to learn new professions, but all progress will also be forgotten. It’s also importnt to take the cost of learning professions into account. For instance, Alchemy, Mining and Herbalism don’t require much financial investment, but mastering the Blacksmith profession does.
Collectibles, Customizations and Items
Pets are creatures that players can summon or tame, and can be divided into three subtypes, namely combat guardian and companions. Combat pets can be partially controlled to assist players in battle and are usually class-based. Guardian pets can be summoned, but not controlled. They provide players with a degree of protection once summoned and are also usable by specific classes. Companion pets are weak, aesthetic pets that follow players around when summoned, and do not impact combat.
Pets can be acquired either through the Blizzard store in exchange for real-world money, through quests fulfillment, farming (killing creatures until they finally drop a pet), purchased from vendors, as loot or other players or the Auction House. Each pet is able to learn a maximum of four abilities.
Mounts are ridable pets that provide players with transportation. Some can fly, while others can only run and swim, but still greatly improve transportation and mobility. They can be acquired in the same way as pets, but unlike pets, some of them require training which can take weeks of daily training tasks. Certain mounts can also require a certain level of riding to use. Certain mounts, such as the Heirloom mount, require no skill, and so can be used from at level. This is pretty good, since most mounts require the character to minimally be at level 20 before they can use them. Other mounts, like the Hearthsteed, can be earned cross-game, as it requires the player to win three games in HearthStone, making it one of the easier mounts to get. Most mounts’ riding speed are only dependent upon the rider’s riding skill level. Riding skills are taught by riding trainers and mount vendors. Some mounts are class or race-specific.
- Weapons, Armor, Items and Customizations
These can be crafted, purchased from vendors, other players or through the Blizzard shop, looted or traded. Some are purely cosmetic, while others offer certain buffs. Many are class-specific.
Class roles are crucial to clearing dungeons. Each dungeon requires groups of up to five players to clear, with the most ideal combination comprising of three DPSs, one Healer and one Tank. Players can form parties organically by players forming parties with their friends or guild members, or through the Dungeon Finder tool that will perform a match-making function to form parties. Each dungeon is swarming with various monsters and their own unique boss. Defeating monsters and bosses will sometimes result in loot being dropped. Monster corpses or objects containing loot will shimmer until someone has claimed the loot. All loot claimed will appear in the party’s chat-box, alongside the name of the player that acquired the loot. All party members can claim loot from a boss’s body, but the resultant loot will vary from player, falling into
Dungeons also offer players the opportunity to fulfill their private quests. Therefore, it is wise for players to discuss their private quests with one another for potential opportunities to resolve quests that match. Quest items found in corpses can be collected by all party members, rather than their simply going to the first person to loot the corpse. This method of item-collection is therefore much quicker way for individual players to complete their quests.
However, each character’s back-pack has a limited capacity for carrying items, so it is wise for players to store unneeded items at the bank beforehand. This is also advisable when players have tagged their character for PvP, as their corpses will become lootable
Fortunately, there is no pressure to level up in this game, as there are always quests available at a character’s specific level. Additionally, there is also a useful Adventure Guide tool that will pop up when SHIFT_J is pressed, showing the player all of the dungeons, quests, zones and PvP options that are available to their character’s level. In fact, there is so much content that a player cannot complete all of the quests available to their character before they level up. This means that the gameplay experience can potentially be completely different when you move on to level up your next character. A fun aspect is that these quests are generally tied to an overall storyline for your character, which enhances the immersive experience. Many quests are given by NPCs, can be found on noticeboards or scrolls, by using certain looted items, opening containers or through chain-quests. They generally earn characters both experience points and other rewards.
The latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth can be ordered through Amazon here.