A week in WoW

I’ve been back in WoW for a week now (though I’m still playing other games too). In that time my level 8 Rogue has gotten to level 23, which means I’ve done Elwynn Forest, Westfall and Redridge.

On one level I’m enjoying the new questlines in these zones. If you haven’t played in many years (like I hadn’t), so far there’s basically been one solid quest line in Westfall and Redridge (I’d done parts of Elwynn years back when I created this character so I kind of re-entered it mid-way through so I’m not sure how much it has changed). A lot of secondary quests have been removed but each zone now tells a little story. A cheesy story, I’ll grant you, but they lead you through the zone along a clear path and at the end all your quests are finished, nice and tidy, and you’re ready for the next zone.

While these quest lines are fun, they make the game even more into a themepark. You take a quest and it leads to the next quest and the next. You might get ‘kill ten rats’ sidequests but you complete them more or less naturally in the course of doing the ‘main’ quest. If you’re not doing dungeon runs (and I’m not) it’s all pretty linear. Whether that’s good or bad depends on how much you like wandering about. Of course I could bounce around and go quest in other low-level zones if I really wanted to change things up.

The overall result, to me, is that WoW feels like a game now, and I remember in the past it feeling like a place. It all feels much sillier, too. There are people riding motorcycles, for one thing. As Bhagpuss talked about the other day, the quests riff off of popular culture. Westfall apparently spoofs CSI, which I didn’t really pick up on since I’ve never watched CSI. But Redridge spoofs Rambo and even though I’ve never seen Rambo-the-movie I’ve certainly seen Rambo-the-character with his red headband, so I got what they were going for there. It all starts feeling pretty modern. Then add in a lot of fart and poop jokes (at least more than I remember) and it starts to feel like it’s aimed at kids, too. Any sense of being in a kind of pseudo-medieval world is long gone. This is a video game, for sure.

That’s not bad, it’s just different. The Azeroth that was my home away from home for a time many years ago is gone. It took a period of adjustment to get past that, but once I did I was OK with it and I’m trying to appreciate this new Azeroth on its own terms.

What I’m really struggling with is the pace of combat. I’ve played too many faster-paced MMOs lately, I guess. My rogue is hoarse from saying “I don’t have enough energy” since I’ve become un-accustomed to letting auto-attack run on its own while I wait for resource meters to refill. I also get a lot of “It’s too far away” messages even though I feel like I have my face pressed against the mob. It’s taking real willpower for me to chill out and let my guy fight on his own while I wait impatiently for the opportunity to DO something.

At the same time, let’s talk about easy mode. I finally died once at level 20 but it was kind of a trap and kind of a bad decision on my part. You have to get a key from a stump in the midst of a pack of sleeping wargs, and I stealthed in and grabbed it. When I grabbed it, stealth broke, the wargs woke up and killed me almost instantly. Aside from this one event I’ve never been close to dying, and some named mods seem to have a self-destruct mechanism, they die so incredibly quickly.

At level 20 I got to learn a riding skill and basic mounts are stupid cheap. 9 silver, maybe? Put it this way, I bought 3 of them just to have some variety. A far cry from the days of scrimping and saving to get a mount! Having a mount is pretty handy though my goodness do these models look terrible when riding. My rogue looks like he’s cut from plywood when he’s on his horse, the model is so stiff and upright. Maybe some day Blizzard can find the time and money to redo the riding animations.

On the other hand, if you want a bag, forget it. I looked on the auction house and bags beyond 8 slots are super expensive for a new character. Like hundreds of gold, when I have 6 gold! Balancing that out is that there are flight paths EVERYWHERE so it’s easy to recall or fly somewhere to sell your junk loot.

I also got my first set of spiky shoulder armor, so now my rogue looks like a proper WoW character. 🙂

I don’t see myself sticking with WoW for very much longer. It’s been fun seeing how they’ve redone the low level zones, but not really fun enough to spend $15/month to play. I’m a solo player so I won’t be doing dungeons or anything which means most of what I’m paying for I won’t use. There are enough decent F2P games to scratch my solo MMO player itch. That’s not a fault of WoW’s though; that’s just who I am.