Author: Tony Brasel – AKA Brasel the Gamer
I’ve been playing Massive Multiplayer Online RPGs since the early 2000’s. Being the huge Final Fantasy fan that I was, when Final Fantasy XI was announced, I was keen on jumping in as soon as I could. I won’t lie, though, I wasn’t incredibly excited about the idea of having to pay for a monthly subscription and play with others. Final Fantasy was always a single player game for me, one that I loved to experience on my own. I never was and still have never been much of a multiplayer game kind of guy. Did I like Final Fantasy XI? Well, let’s just say that it fast tracked me through a failed attempt at a college degree and a one way ticket for the United States Army.
I was was intrigued by the MMORPG experience. I loved that I could make friends easily without having to worry about awkward in person social exchanges, but sometimes being forced into groups just to level up made Final Fantasy XI not quite the game I was hoping for. A few years after quitting, joining the Army, and a year long tour in Iraq, I started playing Final Fantasy XI again. I had a few soldier buddies who were pretty deep into the game, and while I had fun playing with them, the game was still pretty clunky and I lost interest again.
Then I was introduced to World of Warcraft. If you read the article I linked above, you’ll know that my first deployment to Iraq contained a lot of video game playing. Yeah, I wasn’t a ground pounder. Not a REAL hero. Just a guy who did IT support for the people who made the real sacrifices. My second deployment was no different, except this time, we had access to civilian satellite Internet. That meant online games, and my platoon leader/officer in charge was an avid World of Warcraft player. I had my wife send me a copy of the game and after a few months of waiting, I was finally able to play. It completely blew away my experiences with Final Fantasy XI. World of Warcraft was not only a great multiplayer experience, but it also allowed you to play through most of the game solo. That meant that I could play with others at my own pace, rather than be forced into it.
Now, I was actually a pretty big fan of the Warcraft series prior to WoW. I had been playing the games since the original DOS game Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans. Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness was my favorite of the three games, though I did thoroughly enjoy the third Warcraft. WoW was able to take all the comic fantasy charm that made the original games great and fit them into a RPG experience with very little bumps along the way, or so I had seen. It even took elements from the Diablo series, such as the very familiar looking inventory system, complete with color coded weapons and equipment that designated rarity. The skills bar was also very reminiscent of Diablo and Diablo II, with abilities being tied to hotkeys and subject to a cooldown system. I was VERY familiar with Diablo and Diablo II, with my love of the lore and art design of Warcraft, the two worlds were very perfectly blended together to create a very fun, atmospheric, and intuitive game.
I played World of Warcraft almost every night after I was done with the day’s tasks. I got hooked. I played so much that I lost sleep, and I quickly passed the other guys who were playing with me because I couldn’t wait around. I’m not great at playing games with other people, I always get impatient and want to charge ahead, Jenkins style. When my squad did play together, we had a lot of fun. We’d quest, run through dungeons, and all the other normal WoW stuff. Since we were all in the same room together, it was even more fun. There was always an air of friendly rivalry and lots of trash talk.
After the deployment was over, I largely stopped playing. At the time I played, only the first expansion, Burning Crusade, had been released. I didn’t start playing again until Cataclysm had come out. I started a new character and was surprised by the changes that Blizzard had implemented. All the familiar old areas I had grown so fond of had been changed by the dastardly dragon, Death Wing. I again got sucked into the game, and played almost nothing else during the time I was engrossed. Again, I’m not much for playing with other people. I’d pay the subscription just to chat in a guild and sometimes run through easy dungeons with lower level players. So by the time I got to the end game, I completely lost interest and stopped playing.
Well, thanks to our own Nate Rowe, I started playing again. My… how World of Warcraft has changed! You can collect and battle pets like some kind of Blizzard styled Pokemon game. The ability trees are completely gone and combat actions are simplified. You can change character specializations incredibly easily anytime you are in a rested area. The mounts you collect are shared between every character you have on your World of Warcraft account. Same goes for things such as titles, achievements, and others. You can purchase incredibly powerful heirloom weapons and armor that level with your characters and are also easily shared between different characters on the same account. World of Warcraft has gotten a lot more approachable and inclusive. Anyone can pick up and play without feeling intimidated by complex battle commands or strategies. In fact, if you purchase the latest expansion, Legion, you are able to boost one character to level 100 automatically. The game then takes you through a mostly fun and engaging little tutorial to learn how to play the new high leveled character, allowing you to have enough knowledge to jump into the expansion content right away.
I’m having a blast playing World of Warcraft again. This time, though, I have enough of a passion for content creation and retro games that I’m not completely sucked in and addicted to it. The game has aged wonderfully, and is still completely playable in today’s day and age. Try out a World of Warcraft trial if you aren’t sure about dumping $60 on the latest expansion pack. It includes all the expansions up until Legion so you’ll have plenty of content to enjoy before deciding whether you want to jump in for the long haul. It’s great to be back. Gotta apologize to my old Alliance characters though…FOR THE HORDE!
Author: Nate Rowe
I hadn’t played World of Warcraft since the Wrath of the Lich King DLC; jumping back blindly into Legion was a very scary, but I dove head first. All the awesome things Tony mentioned about the new expansion are true: you can start a trial of any character/class you want before you use your level 100 boost, the story is very engaging from the start, and Blizzard has done an amazing job of unifying old players and new or returning ones. So since he has covered some of the introductory things, it seemed only fitting to add a bit about end game content and other features that are new to people just getting back into WoW.
Blizzard has done some very cool things and put some brilliant systems in place over the years I had been away. For instance, back in the day if you wanted to take the easy route of buying a nice little chunk of gold so it was one less thing to worry about deterring your experience, you had to go to an illegal 3rd party site and hope you didn’t get ripped off. There was also no way to pay for your subscription via in-game currency either. Blizzard was able to knock out 2 birds with one stone by introducing the ‘WoW Token.’ Someone can buy this token from the in-game or Blizzard shop and then sell it on their server’s Auction House. The tokens are sold for about 35-36k gold each, and the other person buying it is getting 30 days added to their subscription. It was really an ingenious method to eliminate a lot of 3rd party sites and give people a chance to pay for their monthly fee with fake money.
The Legion DLC is named for the new/old evil forces that have seeped back into the realm. Added in this newest expansion is an area named Broken Isles. The lore behind this place is pretty significant, as it seems to have been the birthplace for all of Azeroth; a cradle of early civilization if you will. During flashes of a few cut scenes with explanation later, you see that all the contents used to be joined into one land. The devastation from the first Legion uprising hundreds of years ago is literally what split the continents apart; and now, they’re back.
Each new zone within the Broken Isles has its own unique storyline with an array of cool cut-scenes in between. One of the coolest features however is that you can tackle any area you want first, and experience the new areas at whatever pace you desire. All enemies and surroundings scale with the player, and while that might sound stale, it is done in a way to really flush out your class skills and give you a chance to really learn to character and role in group play. So even if you are just getting into WoW and use the level 100 boost, you will still have a pretty good handle on a least one of your character specializations by the time to hit level cap.
Finally, there is ‘end game’ content, which anybody who has played an MMO knows is almost half the game in itself. Blizzard has given many options to players that have just hit the level cap of 110. First off, you will then be able to start your quest lines in the final area of the Broken Isles in a place named Suramar. Like the other areas, Suramar has its own story line that interlinks all the others. So without any spoilers, Blizzard has done a great job of telling a story that will take some time to get through.
Also opened up after a few quests at 110 is a new feature called ‘World Quests.’ These quests are not received in the usual fashion (from a quest giver), but rather they just start when you enter a specific area. The rewards for these quests vary from: gear, gold, crafting reagents, and order resources. Order resources work as a type of currency in the newly added ‘Order Halls.’ As if the grand story of Legion wasn’t big enough, Blizzard has also introduced a new ‘home’ for each of your classes. Each class now has they’re very own campaign to play through, and 3 Artifact weapons to collect for each class specialization.
Artifact weapons are also a totally new concept to WoW. Previously, the ‘biggest and baddest’ weapons were only obtained through the game’s hardest raids with each DLC. Artifact weapons look to change this hierarchy completely. Almost immediately after reaching 100, whether through boost or traditional leveling methods, you are given the quest to obtain your first artifact weapon. These weapons will be the only one you ever need in the Legion DLC as they are very unique. Each one has its own skill style tree granting passive upgrades to make your character more powerful the longer you use it. You will never have to fight with raid group members over weapon loot anymore; hurray! ALL THE OTHER GEAR HOWEVER, is a different story. However, Blizzard has done a great job making it easy to at least get decent starter gear so you can hop in random groups to experience what the game has to offer without having to be in an active 100+ member guild.
In summary, while I could go on and on about some of the other features of the game that I love the most, like mount hunting, the point of this rambling was to express my utter enjoyment with diving back into WoW. If anybody is on the fence about it, I highly recommend you take the plunge; it has been totally worth it to me!