World of Warcraft: character creationCharacter creation is pretty straight forward. Choose between Horde or Alliance. Pick your race and class. You can tweak your skin...
World of Warcraft: spellsSpells and abilities are easy to use. Select your target and hit the hotkey to trigger your spell. At this level, my mage only has...
World of Warcraft: trainerYou can learn new spells from your trainer. Come back at times to buy new or upgraded spells. At level 3, I will have access to Ma...
World of Warcraft is the best-selling and genre-defining fantasy MMORPG from Blizzard Entertainment, the game company behind the hit franchises, Diablo and StarCraft. Released in 2004, World of Warcraft has become a notable pop culture phenomenon with its appealing blend of sword-and-magic gameplay, memorable hero and villain cast, and achievement-driven progression. Many industry observers recognize World of Warcraft as the most popular MMORPG based on the subscriber numbers, which at one point reached 10 million players worldwide. Subscriptions for World of Warcraft are paid monthly, and, like any MMORPG, are used to create future content. World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving game, adding a major expansion every two years or so that introduces new game areas, features, and even the occasional new race or class.
In World of Warcraft, each player can create an avatar character by choosing between eleven playable races, such as the humans, night elves, orcs and trolls. You will further customize your character choice by selecting from eleven playable classes, such as the rage-filled warrior, pet-commanding hunter and spell-slinging Mage. These race and class options are updated as of the fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, and may expand with future expansions. Choosing your race and class in World of Warcraft is important since this will dictate the skills you will use while exploring the game world of Azeroth. You can use these skills to kill monsters, complete quests, fight other players, and defeat bosses. The depth of content in World of Warcraft is staggering, so you can easily spend hundreds of hours exploring Azeroth, collecting virtual wealth and glory for your character. While some of the hardest challenges in World of Warcraft can lead to the death of your character, it will not be permanent, and he or she will be resurrected in a previous save point with all his items intact.
Exploring and accomplishing feats in World of Warcraft will often reward you with the game's main currency, Gold, which can be spent on vendors for powerful weapon and armor upgrades. Collectively known as gear, these equipment pieces power up your character and help you overcome increasingly harder foes. Winning battles is one of the core requirements for progression in World of Warcraft, but there are other activities to do aside from slaying spiders and dragons. World of Warcraft is popular for being a social game, as well, where you can befriend other players from around the world. World of Warcraft offers tools that allow you to chat with them privately and keep track of their presence online, making the experience truly massively multiplayer without removing the option to play solo when the mood strikes you.
Graphics – World of Warcraft has a cartoony art style that’s meant to appeal to all ages. It strives to be as inoffensive as possible with its presentation – characters and environments are not too cutesy, or cheeky, or gory or risqué – and the result is a parental-approved, fantasy theme park world. It’s to the Blizzard art team’s credit that even with all their childproofing efforts, the look is distinct enough to stand out from the MMORPG crowd. Still, this almost decade-old title will show its age when compared to the newer crop of MMOs like Guild Wars 2 and TERA.
World of Warcraft might display less-than-cutting-edge graphics but it does have one advantage. The game can run on most PC systems with no video card trouble. Its relatively low graphics requirements enable most gamers to run the program in a decent resolution without having to spend on an upgrade. That often seals the deal for casual gamers. But if you’ve invested in a better PC, World of Warcraft lets you amp up the visuals to the higher resolution bands. Leave it to Blizzard to be a crowd pleaser.
The bigger question though is if you would want to blow up the resolution. Short answer: Yes. The world of Azeroth becomes more breathtaking when you get to see the finer details of your epic-quality armor or the dazzling spell effects in a progression boss fight. World of Warcraft art assets are designed to go from pleasantly decent to surprisingly spectacular the higher you go up in the graphics quality settings.
Sound – World of Warcraft has a delightful selection of background tracks. Arguably its best music are triggered during intense boss battles and raid fights, but strolling through its numerous zones often yields surprising aural gems. Voice acting is professional and a bit perky on delivery, as if the NPCs are giddy to speak their lines. Each race is given a default accent that goes a long way immersion-wise. Even creatures show personality through their various snarls, growls and roars. Interacting with the UI triggers functional sound effects. Overall, the music and sound get the job done in improving the play experience, expertly blended instead of standing out.
Story – When you enter into the world of Azeroth, the magical setting of World of Warcraft, you will be asked to choose a faction, race and class. Among these three character creation decisions, your faction pick carries the most weight for story purposes. Your chosen faction will dictate your general storyline, the quests available to you, and the world areas you can explore freely. Everyone is advised to roll characters from the Horde faction and the Alliance faction to get the full storyline perspectives. This is because each faction has varying agendas and concerns, which will play out as you go deeper into the game. There is no overarching villain in World of Warcraft, only expansion bosses which represent the central enemy and ultimate boss challenge per major content patch.
Gameplay Mechanics – World of Warcraft has been called the king of theme park MMORPGs. Theme park because, like the real-life version, it caters to everyone with its boundless selection of activities. This is equally a compliment and a critique.
As a compliment, this means that the game tries to please gamers of all types. Casual gamers can coast through easy mode by sticking to quests and following the carefully laid out path by Blizzard. Hardcore gamers can compete with the very best for raiding and arena achievements. PvP gamers have multiple modes to duke it out. Roleplayers have a treasure trove of lore and costumes to use. And every shade of player in between can try everything out with little to no restriction. In fact, most achievements in World of Warcraft can be earned with enough persistence. Player skill in killing monsters or raiding is valued, but is not a prerequisite for unlocking most of the content in the game, making it a very casual-friendly MMO. They weren’t joking when they said even your grandma can play World of Warcraft (although she’d have to still know how to handle a mouse and hotkeys.)
On the flip side, World of Warcraft tries so hard to maintain a diverse fan base that it has a hard time shaking up the game. There is little done to the rock the boat. This makes for a very predictable environment where you can expect it to look, feel and play the same several years from now. Fan fatigue is a common complaint, where a World of Warcraft fan takes a break from the monotony of play.
Incapable of drastic changes? Guilty. Resting on its laurels? Not quite. Blizzard might not be much of a risk taker, but it has a great record in rolling out quality of life improvements in World of Warcraft. You will constantly receive convenient upgrades. Need to group faster? Here’s a new feature for you. Find the leveling too much of a grind? Here’s an experience boost to speed things up. The development team has its ears perennially perked for complaints, and works fast to troubleshoot them – unless of course it’s the type of request that will fundamentally change the winning formula of World of Warcraft.
Unique Fun Factor – Even its staunchest critics will concede that World of Warcraft is a well-produced, low-barrier MMO game. It might not be overly original, but it does offer the most polished example of a modern-era MMO. This was done through the sheer caliber of talent and scale of production that went into, and is still going into, creating the game. World of Warcraft has an almost fanatical obsession with inclusiveness, so you’re guaranteed to find something that will entertain you in its sprawling game world. Its million-member community also auto-includes you in a super active social hub that spans the globe.
- Industry-leading level of polish and production scale.
- Expansive content offering hundreds, if not thousands, of play hours.
- Truly global gaming community in the multiple millions.
- Getting long in the tooth as it enters a decade old.
- Fan fatigue as veterans become increasingly harder to excite.
- New players might find it grueling to catch up.
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