What follows is part 2 of my review of Blizzard’s online phenomenon World of Warcraft [continued from here]. This week I look at some of the things that I wasn’t so keen on, and the stuff that ultimately drove me to leave the game.
The Alliance vs The Horde
One of the things I like about WoW is that you don’t play as the ‘goodies’ or the ‘baddies’ (as you might in, say, Star Wars: The Old Republic). Instead you have the Alliance and the Horde, both of whom have their good and bad traits, and who are not in full, open war, instead usually find themselves fighting a common enemy. While this is great and probably one of the reasons WoW is such a big success, I have some problems with it. As a veteran of the Warcraft series, I had no particular desire to fight the horde. I avoid PvP, though it has to be said this had more to do with the other players. I’ve even helped a few horde souls who I came across who were in trouble.
Particularly in certain dungeons and with bosses like Arthas, I would have loved to be able to team up with Horde players and work together against the common foe. Sure, it would only be in certain situations or dungeons, but think how much easier it would be if an Alliance group could have recruited a decent Orc tank, or if a horde group could recruit a Night Elf priest as a healer? It would also make more sense in terms of the game’s lore. Maybe its just me…
Perhaps my biggest problem with the game is with the ‘end-game’ content. I played the game a lot, but nowhere near as much as the hardcore players. I think I prefer having a girlfriend, playing other (much better) games from time to time and having something that at least resembles a social life. Anyway, because I have a life, I have always missed out on the final missions, raids and bosses. This wasn’t a particular problem until Wrath of the Lich King, where the storyline is very focussed on the character of Arthas. Throughout the new continent you encounter him several times, in a storyline that builds up to the final battle. But, of course, you can’t go to the final battle unless you have spent months doing repetitive quests, dungeon runs and daily challenges and have all the best gear.
Basically it is only for those greasy, pallid people with no life and so I will never experience the end of Arthas’ storyline. I just can’t be bothered with the constant, repetitive grind just to get to this point. And because of this, I am punished by not being able to finish the story. This is a shame, because it was actually starting to enjoy it.
The game is regularly being updated with patches, bug fixes and balance changes. While this is good for keeping the game evolving and improving, it does mean that you will spend an awful lot of time with the Blizzard Downloader. This is probably the worst piece of software that Blizzard have ever produced. It is slow and it hogs all of your system resources (and my machine was fairly powerful). On several occasions I found got the patches via torrent, rather than waiting for this bloody thing! This is a particular pain when you first install the game it has to download a long series of large updates. Don’t expect to just shove the disk in and start decapitating Murlocs with any haste!
[This has recently, alegedly, been improved spectacularly, but it was a huge frustration!]
So, in summary, its very hard to say whether I would recommend this game. I enjoyed it for most of the time that I played it, which was for the best part of three years. Its certainly the most fun and best designed MMO that I have played to date, and with Cataclysm putting a focus on the earlier parts of the game, now is probably a good time to give it a go. But, as a fan of single player and deep role-playing games, I got quickly bored once I’d reached the level cap, and not being particularly social I didn’t really get into the multiplayer side of things. There is a free trial available, so I would say to give it a go before buying it and judge for yourself.
RECOMMENDATION: Rent It (in the form of the free trial…)