I’ve played my fair share of MMOs through the years. I’ve also played more than my fair share of shite MMOs, often against my will (hur hur sorry Pete!). There is one silvery thread that keeps pulling me back though, I really can’t put my finger on why exactly. Is it the social aspect? The feeling of being part of something much larger than yourself? Or is it a deeper tie, have Blizzard tapped into our primal urge for progression and completion, our higher brain always keen to sort everything into tidy packets, in a nutshell, to simplify life.
I think that last point is why I like MMOs, wouldn’t life be fantastic if it all were truly black and white? If I do X, then Y will always happen. If I get my head down and work hard, I will be appropriately rewarded. Life in this artificial world is fair. Could this be the first version of the Matrix that everybody rejected? Well that is a question for another day.
Instead I come to you today with a revelation. In the recent Game Of The Year discussions (find here:) one of our faithful members, a certain Mr Oligon submitted a suggestion that I don’t think any of us really considered:
World of Warcraft Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies in the first 24hours.
Over 12 million subscribers thats more people that live in Portugal (about 11 mill)
Over 3000 new quests ingame.
2 new races.
1 new profession Archaeology.
and 1 Oli that simply has not enough time to see it all…
Being a snooty writer with two separate experiences of WoW, I was somewhat dismissive of his contribution, saying that just because a lot of people do something it doesn’t mean it is good. Take smoking for example, OK it may make you look cool and sexy but it is wrong. I wasn’t swung by this line of argument but it did start a ticking inside my head, a WoWbomb if you will. It was always inevitable I would go back to the daddy of all MMOs. Still there was a niggle I couldn’t shake, what if I get addicted again? You see, I have an addictive personality, I’ve been led by pretty much any vice you care to mention (apart from gambling, strangely. It has never really appealed to me). There are a lot of things I feel I have now ruined and can’t go back to because of inappropriate use. However I am better now aren’t I? My shrink seems to think I am on the right path. I can surely handle it right? Again, that is a conversation for my shrink, I’m sure you haven’t strolled in here to read my incoherent ramblings. To the WoW!
God Damn those Blizzard Boys keep it slick! During the installation I was directed to the website to resubscribe to the service, this time I would link my previous WoW account with my Battle.net account created for Starcraft 2. After tapping in my account info that was it, all was linked into one bundle, even my Diablo 2 account was recovered from the bygone days of dial-up and BBS! After which came the customary patching, a mere 12GB of data due to squeeze it’s way down my Cornish inter-tubes. The surprising thing however was that I didn’t have to wait until it was finished before I could play. After about 50% complete I could jump straight into game, with the warning some services may not be available while they are still being streamed to my machine. How cool is that?!
I’ve heard a lot of things from a lot of people about how Blizzard have worked really hard to vary the experience of WoW, promising players something very different from the copy-paste kill 10 rats questing. I was hugely skeptical, even with my minuscule knowledge of how things work I knew that this would be such a major undertaking it boggled my mind. Even if you take the creation of new quest-lines as simple, imagine changed huge swathes of the game-world and still keeping continuity. Then image again creating two completely new races and trying to keep all of the existing classes in balance. That is the donkey work though, the really hard bit it forcing a creaking old game engine to do things it was never designed to do. I can’t tell you definitively if it has been a 100% success for I haven’t seen all of the new content. I started a new Goblin character with his own backstory, once an up-and-coming goblet in a steampunk metropolis but thrown cruelly into slavery and shipwrecked on an island. I have been hugely impressed with the amount of hard work that has clearly gone into spicing up your experience.
Here is just a few highlights of my first week back into WoW:
- I’ve had a merry little joyride around an island with my goblin friends in tow.
- I’ve attempted to relieve a giant rock-man with a giant suppository.
- I’ve exploded a monkey with a particularly volatile banana.
- Riding a giant hot-air balloon, I dropped a giant comedy bomb on to a tree of helpless elves.
- I’ve restored a giant Big-Daddy to working order, followed by using said daddy to flatten a lot of dwarves.
- I blew up a tower, only just escaping as I base-jumped from the top with an improvised parachute (dramatic camera angle included).
That is only just a few that jump to mind right now, it seems Blizzard have taken their world a bit less seriously, keen on shoe-horning in any pun they can, it is a very welcome change. I can also say that these zany experiences were not just limited to the starting zones, many of the above were after level 25. I was also hugely impressed with the very much improved dungeon finder. Many was the time four of us would be standing around, spamming LF1M healer WC in the chat (Looking for a healer for Wailing Caverns quests). Now you open your dungeon finder menu, select a dungeon and what role you will take (for example a tank, damage dealer or healer) and hit the go button. While it is attempting to get your group together you are free to do whatever you want, even leave the area entirely to start some new quests. When your party has been formed you can hit a button to teleport you straight to the dungeon, Simples! If a member drops out halfway through, it will attempt to pull another member of the same role in, often working within a minute or so. And when your quests are complete and the world is safe again, you hit the same button to teleport out of the dungeon and straight back to where you originally left.
Right, that will do me for today. This is not a review, just commentary. It is by no means a complete index of all the new features, I may be back to spout some more to you at a later date. I had the urge to tell you about what The Antman has been up to over Christmas. And this is kind of a mini call-to-arms (a call to fingers, perhaps) to everyone out there who fancies writing a bit for good old MLG. As you can see from above I had no set goals in mind when writing this piece. You see, the internet is full of facts, most of them wrong. You can’t move for copy-pasted flat facts out there, the big sites often focusing on quick hits by being the first to publish the news with no real substance behind the headline. That is exactly what we are looking for though, substance. If you’ve a strong opinion about anything gaming related and wish to vent it to the masses in a formal(ish) manner, then please see here (linky).