Initial Impressions: WORLD OF WARCRAFT

Okay, so for someone who was a huge fan of fantasy, role-playing games, WARCRAFT and its sequels, and Blizzard itself, you might’ve thought I’d have jumped on Blizzard’s massively multi-player masterpiece when it was first released.  I did not.  I was deathly afraid of WORLD OF WARCRAFT for all the reasons above.  Knowing my tendencies to  . . . er . . . overly focus on things to the exclusion of all others and my bit of experience playing FINAL FANTASY XI (the online one) and RAGNAROK ONLINE I was certain that WoW would be crack cocaine in digital form.

In the end, I decided it was necessary for me to face the dangers of WoW addiction in order to have some experience with the game.  It is a pivotal piece of gaming and so many people reference things within it (especially when talking about creating other online games) that I had to play it enough to be familiar with it.  With all that being said, let’s get into it!

WORLD OF WARCRAFT is what is known as an MMORPG or massively multi-player role-playing game.  It is set in the fantasy world Blizzard created in their WARCRAFT series of strategy computer games, where humans battle orcs and both sides have allies in other races and fantastic creatures.  The game features several different races on both sides of the two playable alliances: the Alliance and the Horde.  I found myself more attracted to the look of the Alliance characters (the sort of “good” side that has Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes fighting for it), but in the end I put together a tauren (a sort of minatour type race) druid.

The main gameplay consists of walking your character around the fantasy world and destroying creatures.  The former is done with standard keyboard controls or by clicking where you want to go.  The latter is the focus of the game and generally consists of clicking on a creature then attacking it with one or more abilities.  The abilities range from simple damage dealing to effects like holding a creature in place.  Like its predecessors, WoW use monster bashing (with all its dice-rolling glory) as its main mechanic, but the draw is in the growth of the character itself.  There’s a sense of accomplishment felt when your character is strong enough to survive and travel to a new area.  There’s always that next level to gain to see what new monster-overcoming power your character can learn and since it’s an online game and one that supports a massive number of players, you can do adventures with several of your friends at once.  It does become a bit of Dungeons and Dragons without pens, paper, dice, and having to imagine what these creatures, characters, and locations look like.

And in case you’re wondering, I did have a mild obsession with it after my initial hour (which goes by pretty fast, by the way), but I’ve been able to manage my WoW play pretty well.  I think I was right, though, if they’d have had this game when I was in college and I’d gotten it, that would’ve been the end of a lot of my classes!

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