My roommate convinced me to start playing World of Warcraft several months ago. After a one-month subscription and about thirty levels of playing, I set it aside and never really planned to play again. Recently, as he was preparing for the Expansion that just came out, he discovered that a few of our friends also played and so used my main weakness against me. I’ve got up to four other people who will play with me, now, so there’s not reason for me to worry about letting my money go to waste. Seeing that he was correct and that the new expansion looked like fun, I decided to follow most of my friends from our other online games to WoW.
My initial reactions, this time around, were about the same as last time. The game seems pretty interesting, but it feels way more invested in giving older players something to do than in bringing new players to the game in a way that is easy to learn. If, like me, you wind up purchasing an expansion and using the level-up on a character so you can actually participate when the new content comes out, you better hope you can learn things quickly because you’re otherwise going to drown in the mechanics of target managements, cooldown abilities (powerful abilities that can only be used once every so often, as determined by the ability itself and possibly some of your stats), and casted abilities (can be instantaneous, but often require your character to spend time preparing to use the ability before it goes off), movement in combat, how everything works, and what the hell is going on while you’re trying to remember which button you bound your fireball spell to after you finally bought a mouse with extra buttons that you can barely reach because people apparently don’t believe that MMO players might have large hands. I’m definitely not still annoyed about that last one. Not at all.
That being said, once I was finished having my mind exploded by all the stuff I had to track, found a key-binding I could work with, and started getting to the point where I could watch the battle instead of staring at my abilities constantly, it was actually a lot of fun. The quests are a little hard to follow and there’s so much going on in the world at large that it feels almost pointless to really dig into any of them, so I am pretty much only playing as a social video game. Which is a lot like social drinking. You’d never have more than maybe a beer on your own (do a daily quest) but you’ve got no problem cracking open a few cold ones when you’re with your friends or attending an event (doing quest lines and raiding dungeons). For WoW, that’s what I’d call myself: a social gamer. I don’t think I’ll ever play it by myself and not just because I’m worried I’ll get addicted. I just have other stuff I’d rather do with personal time than play WoW since I can do that with social time.
As far as I can tell, the game is basically a giant grinding machine with little bits of story thrown in every year or so in order to confuse new players who just want to understand what’s going on in the world when their friends pull them into it. That being said, WoW has a wide range of lore for people to peruse. There are books, comics, promotional videos, in-game cinematics, the dialogue from the quests you do, and then history brought in from other games. Most of the big, named characters have long, complex backstories that add nuance to their actions that isn’t really something you can do in a game that doesn’t have the actual history that WoW does. Because we know who everyone is and how they’ve acted in the past, we can generally see how they’ll react to something going on in the current story. One of the most popular parts of the pre-release for a new WoW expansion is going on message boards and theorizing about the plot or who is going to do what based on whatever little tidbit has been recently released to the public. I don’t really have the patience for it, but I’m still pretty new to the world. I have literally done the same stuff about the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (which are amazing books you should read), so I wouldn’t dream of judging or looking down on anyone who enjoys postulating theories for WoW. It just feels like so much more work to get caught up to speed because the Kingkiller Chronicles is two books and WoW is a bunch of games, books, comics, etc that need to be analyzed if I’m going to participate in dissecting nuance.
As far as my current experience? Well, I’ll admit I’m a little frustrated by the number of high-level Alliance players corpse-camping in the lower-level Horde area and the fact that apparently none of the powerful Horde NPCs will lift a finger to attack Alliance players that are camping out in our base. It was funny to get absolutely wrecked by two people–killed so quickly and effectively that I didn’t have the chance to do anything in response to their attacks–the first couple times, it has since gotten rather frustrating since I can’t kill them (or even effectively fight back) and they’re preventing me from completing quests. A bunch of Horde players showed up to clear them out at one point, but they apparently got bored and decided to leave the area to the Alliance players once again. So that, plus constantly getting spammed with invitations to join guilds, requests to party up with random strangers, and some dude trying to sell some dumb looking mount for three million gold, means I’m pretty ready to just turn off all public chat and interaction with unknown players. I dislike the spam and I don’t want to make friends with random people who just want me for my DPS.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at the game. I’m not always so stunned by it, and I’m starting to remember to use my abilities in the correct order and at the correct times. The only mistakes I made today are a result of not looking at my keyboard instead of the fight like I used to. If I can mark the keys a bit or get a new keyboard (it’s about that time, since my mouse already died last week) that has some sort of tactile feedback for each key, I will be in really good shape. I didn’t see myself getting into this game as much as I have and I definitely struggled at first, but I feel like I’m finally starting to get a handle on it.