World of Warcraft Review

Blizzard is the BASF of the gaming world – they make things better. They didn’t invent real-time strategy games, they made them better. They didn’t invent the RPG, but they made it better. And now they’ve taken the MMORPG and made that better too. World of Warcraft is not a quantum leap forward for the genre – instead it takes everything that works well for MMORPG games and fine tunes it even further while alleviating a lot of the tedium and shortcomings as well. If you’ve ever considered getting into an MMORPG then now’s your chance because odds are that if you don’t find yourself enjoying World of Warcraft, then you won’t like any of the other games out there.

If you’ve played these types of games before then you’re familiar with some of their more frustrating aspects – and World of Warcraft has addressed just about every one of them…

I have a quest for you.

What do I do now?: So you’ve spent time creating your character and are then unceremoniously dumped into the world. Now what? Don’t you absolutely hate not knowing where you’re supposed to do next or where you should go? This is not an issue in World of Warcraft. You’re given a quest right from the get-go and will soon find your quest log filled with plenty for you to do. If you’re running low on quests, all that you need to do is look at the local NPCs. Those that have quests to offer have an exclamation point over their heads – if it is faded then you’re level is too low to take on the quest. Simple! No endless conversations with NPCs that are just there for atmosphere – you know at a glance who can help you out. When you accept a quest the exclamation point turns into a faded question mark that turns bright yellow when you’ve satisfied the quest’s goals. You always know where to go because the descriptions in the quest log are excellent and your compass rose will have pointers in the directions of your quest locations.

Long travel times: In most MMORPGs you spend an inordinate amount of time just running around trying to get somewhere else. Quests usually come with double the travel time as they often force you to go somewhere distant, complete the quest, and then return to the location where you received the quest in order to get credit for it. World of Warcraft ensures that you spend more time questing and less time traveling in a couple of ways. First, quests are given near their location so you never have to travel far. Some quests ask you to report to an NPC in a neighboring zone, but this is just a way to let you know that your character is advanced enough to move to more challenging territory. Secondly, there is a high speed transit system of sorts in the game. You can visit stables, griffin aviaries, and the like, pay a small fee, and then be automatically whisked to your desired destination. What’s really impressive about this is that it occurs in real-time. If you’re riding a griffin you’ll be able to watch the land pass quickly beneath you, enjoying the sights and watching players and creatures go about their business below. Sure beats walking!

Exploring the world: One of World of Warcraft’s many nice touches is that it allows you to explore its lands from the very beginning. In most other MMORPGs you’re stuck in a little safe corner of the world and if you venture beyond it before you have spent a nice chunk of time building up your character, then you can expect a swift death at the hands of creatures far beyond your level. As your character’s experience grows you get to see a little bit more and a little bit more of the world in bite-sized chunks, but it will be quite some time before you have a character with enough experience to see most of the world. In World of Warcraft the lands are crisscrossed and connected by a network of roads that provide for safe travel. As long as you stick to the road you are safe from attack by any nearby creatures. Wander off the road and you’re on your own, but if you want to get a look at things in the next zone or two you can do so safely.