25/08/2008 06:42

Unbelievable as it may seem to World of Warcraft (or WoW) fanatics, there may still be a world of people out there who know nothing of this phenomenon, which has received some of the most intense hype ever witnessed for an MMORPG. So this brief introduction is for them. For those smiling condescendingly, you are allowed to skip the following bit.

WoW is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) from Blizzard Entertainment that transports you to the state world of Azerorth. Set four years after the events of its predecessor, Warcraft III, WoW offers players the chance to choose one of many races to live as, including humans, orcs, and tauren. As heroes, they will explore familiar battlefields, discover new lands and take on epic quests and challenges, while meeting and trading with thousands of other players simultaneously.

That, in a very small nutshell, is what WoW is all about. However, our purpose in this article is to discuss whether World of Warcraft has been worth the hype. In order to do that, it would help to take a look at the game’s principal features:

o Initially, the game play is exactly like every other MMORPG you’ve ever played. Movement keys, monster selection, attack, kill, take loot. However, what sets WoW apart from the competition is the vast storyline in the game. There have been other titles like Sony’s monster EverQuest (EQ), where some players swear there is a deep storyline, but most EQ veterans never saw it.
o World of Warcraft has gone in the complete opposite direction. Questing is the key to getting anywhere in WoW. Not only is questing the prime direction of advancement, but the quests are actually very good. Each individual quest has mountains of back-story behind it. Moreover, there are chain quests. Complete a quest and you are given a second, third, fourth, and so on. The questing system develops a multitude of deep storylines. As a fan wrote in to a WoW forum: “There is more story in the Orc city of Orgrimmar than there is in the entire game of EverQuest.”
o The characters are broken up into the old mainstay class system. Each class has three paths they can take, or even mix things up within those paths. For example, a rogue can move along the assassination, combat, or stealth paths, and can take skills from one, two, or all three. The player can decide if he will use his limited points on one sub-skill and get the ultimate skill or be a jack of all trades and pick up middle level skills in all of them.
o On the combat side, WoW again goes in a direction opposite to other, more conventional MMORPGs. You re given a multitude of skills and abilities to use during combat, so much so that you likely won’t beat things without using them. No more click and wait; the game instead requires strategy, as the player must decide how to use limited energy, and what skills to use in what order. Using the rogue again as an example, when parrying an attack, the rogue then has to quickly follow up with a riposte to get extra damage.
o Visually, World of Warcraft is luscious. There is nothing spectacular technically, but the art direction is impressive. Everything is unique, has flavor, and makes the world alive, from Orgrimmar’s presence to Undercity’s creepiness.
o The sound is also pretty good, as is the music. There are random voice clips throughout the game which are well done, as are the monster effects. Attack and spell effects are also pretty good.
The World of Warcraft Edge

As with any game, World of Warcraft has some of the following advantages over its competitors and contemporary MMORPGs.

• Since the game is based on a community of players with the ability to interact in many ways, the gaming experience is almost always evolving and new. Players can experience the questing content alone, with friends, or with a gaming guild.
• In addition to playing the “actual” game, players can interact socially, explore the various landscapes, or participate in the game’s virtual economy.
• In recent patches, Blizzard has revamped certain classes to make them more viable and playable such as Hunters and Druids. Significant changes have also been made to the Paladin.
• The epic nature of some instanced dungeons provides a more content-rich and interesting experience for those who wish to immerse themselves in the world for the amount of time required to complete such instances. Rewards for completing such challenges are in the form of better character equipment, which makes for a better experience when attempting other quest or PvP (player vs. player) content.
• With their financial resources and investment, Blizzard address issues quickly and effectively when compared to other online games. Other popular online games such as Neverwinter Nights and Counter-Strike often seemed to lack the dedicated support, server resources, and consistent additions of new content seen in World of Warcraft.

That is why World of Warcraft was so strongly anticipated and hyped up the year it was released in the US (2004). As of January 2006, World of Warcraft is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world, with more than 5.5 million active subscriptions. This level of popularity eventually led major MMORPG developers such as Sony Online Entertainment to re-think the way they were making games, even changing the game play of their past successful titles like EverQuest.

To those who have never played a game made by Blizzard Entertainment, all of the hype put into this game has a reason, because it probably truly does indicate that it will be unparalleled by any other game in the genre.