I am going to be completely honest with you. I am a Blizzard Fanboy. I remember the day I first bought Diablo 1 and 2. I can remember buying Starcraft and Warcraft 2 and 3. They could put out a game titled Garbage and I would preorder it. But when it came to World of Warcraft, I was very skeptical. See, I came from the Hardcore MMORPG line of gaming. I played Everquest non-stop for 5 years. I could see right through WoW. I had up until then (and up until now) played every online roleplaying game and WoW was one thing…a game for the masses. It was user friendly, easily accessible to everyone. It wasn’t hardcore! Well ever since I gave up to the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft and started playing I have secretly and much to my horror found the real reasons why it continues to be so popular. And it’s not so much the reasons listed above. Well actually there are two reasons that I haven’t mentioned. Blizzards’ love for their universe and the game is just FUN.
And now you ask, what does this have to do with a review of World of Warcraft: Wrath of The Lich King? Well, because WotLK is at its very worse a measuring stick to what other developers should hope to achieve in their games. At it’s best it is what every MMO fan hopes for. More content, features, items, more of what makes a great game great.
(Tested on AMD 3600×2, 3 gigs ram, 8800gt 512 vid card, Vista Premium)
If there is one major gripe towards WoW that is mentioned often, it is the dated graphics. I hate to dissappoint the complainers out there, but nothing revolutionary has happened. Not to say that they have rested on their laurels. I have already seen in a couple of areas that have fog (don’t ask me how they did something so simple and so freakin cool), and I am sure there are more suprises in places I haven’t made it to yet. But honestly I love the graphics. They are very easy on the eyes, AND the computer. Now there are some minor graphical bugs that survived the beta process but nothing that is a game killer. But why push the eye candy? World of Warcraft is a beautiful game and will damn near run on a cell phone. Reason # 153 why they have 11 million subscribers. As I have said many times, the only bad sounds in a game are those which detract from the experience. This is especially true while playing games online because most tend to be talking to other players while playing. But the more I play, the more I catch myself listening to the environmental sounds, or to NPCs having conversations. The latter can actually make you smile at some of the things Blizzard has made the NPCs say to each other. As with the rest of the game, someone genuinely loves their job and it shows. As per most MMO’s, control is keyboard and mouse. World of Warcraft is par for the course; nothing too revolutionary here. There seems to be a lot of new “vehicle” (i.e. fly the griffon/dragon here, drive the tank here, etc) type quests and control sometimes seems awkward in these. Other than that I cannot think of any way to improve the controls. My advice, since everything is remappable, is if you don’t like something change it!
Seeing as one could write a very long book about the changes and new stuff added to WoW with WotLK, I am going to try to just hit on the high points.. (No spoilers and I have not gotten to the level 80 content)
New Zones. Included in the Expansion pack is the new continent Northrend. This isn’t for new players since it is pretty much for the 70 and over crowd. There are 10 main “zones” or areas which ramp up in difficulty as you move outward from the starting areas. There are also 4 new dungeons and one new PVP zone.
New Level Cap. Players now can obtain Level 80. Along with that are new abilities, spells and items.
New Quests. I could go on for days for there are literally hundreds of new quests. Blizzard has outdone itself this time with new content. The best one by far is the quest line for the new hero class which i will get into next…..
New Hero Class – Death Knight. Known as the first “Hero Class” Death Knights are available to anyone who has a level 55 character. When starting out, your DK starts out at level 55 and has to complete what I consider a tutorial quest line introducing you to the differences in the class. Here you learn about Runes (or Runic Power), which is used in place of mana/rage in order to cast spells. Confusing at first, you will soon learn that each ability uses specific runes (which break down into three lines – blood, frost and unholy) and how fast they recharge. After awhile this will all seem old hat. As you continue your starting quest line (which sees you through level 58), you will earn pretty nice equipment, abilities and even a mount! In playing my Death Knight, I have found that he is alot more powerful than my normal Paladin at the appropriate level.
New Abilities/ Achievements. About a month prior to release, Blizzard released via a patch a vast array of new abilities available to each class. Also included in the patch were various U.I. changes along with the the ability to earn Achievements. Anyone who has played any of the current consoles know what Achievements are and at first I thought it was a novelty at best. But more and more as I go along I find myself checking what Achievements I am close to obtaining. Just another way Blizzard keeps the game fresh.
I could go on and on with new features, just know that the more that I play, the better it gets. From the small pop culture references found throughout the game, to the hidden suprises found almost at every turn, the game never ceases to amaze me.
With the aforementioned quantity of new quests, zones, instances, and changes, all but the few level-capping power gamers will find plenty to do here. There are hundreds if not thousands of hours of gaming goodness to be found in this expansion. With Blizzard’s penchant for introducing new content sporadically, I honestly cannot fathom seeing everything to be had here for a long, long time.