World of Warcraft is currently celebrating it’s 6th year and 3rd add-on, under the apocalyptically sounding ‘Cataclysm’. If you haven’t started playing then there is no better time. Blizzard have taken what they have learned over the past 4-5 years when they implemented the two add-ons (Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King), and used this information to go back to the original game and drastically change not only the fundamentals of the game-play, but the world of ‘Azeroth’ itself.
The character creation is simple. When you create your character there is a choice of 8 different races (Humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Elves, Trolls etc.) spread over the 2 factions, Horde and Alliance. Once you have chosen your race, you will need to decide which class you want to become. These classes follow the fairly stereotypical classes you would expect for a fantasy RPG game, mages, warriors, warlocks, priests etc.
Once you have a catchy name for your character, you’re ready to start.
World of Warcraft follows the very familiar concepts of Sword and Magic Role-playing games. There are a great many parallels between WoW, and Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings etc. So ultimately if you don’t like fighting giant dragons with fireballs and large swords, this game probably isn’t for you.
When you start the game, you are guided carefully through the basic fundamentals of the game via each starting race’s storyline. As your level increases more gameplay options are unlocked and the game really opens up. Through-out the entire game your character is pushed along by a vast array of quest storylines, that can affect individuals all the way through to entire races and even the world.
The difficulty of WoW has been a great area of contention for a couple of years now. With the release of Wrath of the Lich King, the level of difficulty dropped which made things far more accessible for the younger or less experienced player. Of course, the older more experienced players started to object that things were too easy there was no more challenge and people often harked back to the good old days of 40 person raids.
It has been said that the latest changes brought prior to the Cataclysm patch have provided more challenge, I have not experienced end game content myself yet, but the first dungeons are certainly more difficult with new bosses and new skills.
Graphically, it is very nice to look at. The graphics are focused on a quite cartoonish, bold and colourful style and not going with a more realistic approach. This of course has worked in Blizzards favour, as the graphical styles are a lot less demanding and can be played on lower specification machines.
The world itself is divided up into a myriad of different areas, each with their own unique look. Whether this is the wintry tundra of Winterspring; the Nevada-esque look of the Barrens or the dark and foreboding feel of Silverpine forest.
Every effort has been made to bring these zones to life. Whether it’s the small creatures that roam around the various zones, or the weather effects such as rain, snow, or sand-storms that beat across the landscape.
Each zone is further brought to life by it’s own music. The human city of Stormwind is accompanied by a tune that is not only quite regal in nature, but with the undertone of pomposity that mirrors the storyline of the human race (Not our human race of course, the Warcraft one.); The lands of the Forsaken in contrast are filled with a hollow haunting melody, that almost fades off into silence at points. Again, making the death like qualities of their homeland a chilling mix of both familiar and deathly ideals.
It is thoughts such as these that have gone into all the zone sounds, bringing a further level of individuality to each area.
Although, music is important the sound effects used within the game have had the same level of care. Every sound of combat is generated depending on the fight itself to a great extent but enough so that you’re hearing the same ‘clank clank clank’ over and over again. Click on a ‘critter’ and hear it squeak, or your mount bray as it rears up. After a while you scarcely even notice the sounds, as they are integrated so well in to the experience.
Updates / Monthly Cost
The standard game now comes at a really low price, often around £5, and this comes with a free month of game-play.
Once this trial period has expired you do have the issue of the monthly cost. Again, not expensive at £8.99 per month and you do get a nice amount of updates and patches to justify the cost. But If you’re under any doubt whether it’s worth the money or not, each new game comes with a trial period of 30 days, which again isn’t bad for the outlay of £5 for the game.
In my opinion there are very good reasons why myself and 30 million other people worldwide play this. It is easy to pick up, and not so easy to put down.
Plus for a fiver what have you got to lose…?