WoW Curiosity

I am, as has been mentioned elsewhere in this blog, a big fat World of Warcraft geek. I play it "a lot" and tend to lose track of time while playing it. I can sit down for a quick run-around at lunchtime, and then realise I have to be getting Jaysen in 15 minutes. Time flies when you're having fun, and all that jazz.

So when our friend Ruth forwarded me an email about WoW, I figured it'd be one of these "Too much Warcraft kills person" or "It's not a Christian game" or something similar. But actually, it was an interesting read, putting the details into "Non-WoW-Speak" for people.

You've probably already heard plenty of scary tales about people obsessed by World of WarCraft (WoW) - from real-life romances consummated by in-game weddings (or vice versa) to people becoming so addicted that they sit hunched over in an Internet café for days at a time before keeling over dead from lack of sleep and food (true - and the player's online friends then held a funeral for her in the game world). So just what is it about WoW that has 8 million people around the world paying £8 a month, every month, to play?

For a start, you have a fair amount of control over the character you play: you can choose between two factions - Alliance ("good", a bit worthy) or Horde ("bad", a bit swarthy), each with different combinations of races - from humans to gnomes and orcs to tauren (minotaur-type things). You must also choose a specific class for your character, including damage-dealing warriors, powerful warlocks and shape-shifting druids. These choices help determine the kind of skills and abilities you can use in game. You're also able to pick your gender, tweak your appearance and choose a name - although this can be tricky, as you'll need to pick one that no-one on your chosen realm has already bagged.

Then there's the addictive nature of levelling up by gaining experience from killing monsters and completing quests. Combat is fairly simplistic at first, involving hitting the numbers on your keyboard according to the attack you want to perform. It won't take you long to rise through the first few levels and as you progress you can learn new skills and abilities which will make you increasingly powerful.

You'll quickly find more quests as you start exploring the world and as you go further afield you'll start to get an idea of just how huge the game world is -- it would take you literally hours to run round the edge of just one of the two main continents. Each area has a unique topography and atmosphere, from lush jungles to icy mountains or volcanic wastelands. At level 40 you can buy an animal mount which lets you run through the game world more than twice as fast. You can also fly between areas you've visited, once you learn the flight path.

Most of the items you collect are from monsters or picked up from quests. You can also create them yourself through skills you learn, which you can then sell to either in-game vendors, direct to other players or through the auction house system. Making (and spending) money in WoW is another hugely addictive part of the game - and in fact there's a lot of money made in the real world through dodgy sales of WoW gold, items and characters. Don't get tempted, though - you'll get banned from playing if you get caught.

As if all that's not enough to keep you hooked, there's player vs. player combat (PvP) - the art of killing the opposing faction's players for honour points, which can be traded for even more shiny new equipment and armour. You can either attack enemy players in the main game world, or enter battlegrounds or arenas for multiplayer PvP action at any time you choose.

Another thing about WoW that makes it so compelling is the need to collaborate. You may get more experience per enemy by completing quests alone, but if you team up with other players you'll burn through the quests much more easily. And instances -- special dungeon areas - can only be beaten in a group, as they're full of higher-level monsters (from which you can reap better rewards). Play nicely and you'll get invited back by the same groups again. You could also join an in-game guild of like-minded players. And who knows, romance may beckon...

Unless you have the new Burning Crusade expansion pack, level 60 is the highest you can get - and it'll probably take you a few months to get to that level. With the expansion though you can rise to 70. Other features include a whole new world to explore (Peter and Katie will be delighted), new races and classes and flying mounts.

For a lot of players, the game starts to come into its own once you hit these higher levels, as you can start doing bigger dungeon raids, with up to 40 people at once fighting bosses for higher rewards, including some seriously impressive armour and weaponry to show off with. You can also spend time building up your reputation with certain groups within the game to get even more exclusive items. Or you could just create a new character in a different race and class, and start all over again...

Overall, what makes WoW so ruddy addictive is that it's much more than the sum of its parts. Take any one aspect of the game and you'd be hard pushed to bother spending more than a few hours with it. But add the levelling and quests, the money and trading, the gear collecting, and the social aspects, plus the glorious touches of humour in the game and you get a completely compelling experience - cue many long nights of ``I'll just level up/finish this quest/stick a few more items on the auction house before I go to bed..."...and before you know it it's 3am. Again.
I hope that enlighten things a little more for those that were clueless! If you're interested, WoW Europe (It's broken into areas, US/Australia, Europe, and Asia) is currently running a free 10-day trial here, while WoW-US is running their free trial here. Obviously I play on WoW Europe, and if you play US then you won't be able to see me there. Also, bear in mind the time difference - if you're in New York @ 7pm trying to play, then it'll be midnight here.

If you DO happen to find yourself in the European Realms, then you can find me on the Horde side of the server "Steamwheel Cartel" as one of four characters: Braytusk (Orc Warlock), Ushka (Troll Priest), Laninia (Undead Mage) or Nathgoren (Blood Elf Paladin).

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