It’s always difficult to find a game that hits you in the right place. It’s even more difficult if you’re aching to play one that’s been out for quite some time. You tend to think about all the things you have to do and the things you have to know, learning every new bit of information on whatever game you have in mind. I know it’s not a great feeling, especially when you’ve been an established player in the previous games you’ve played. As a wise man once said, “People are creatures of habit”. Truer words have never spoken. So, how does a person like this fit into a long-standing giant like World of Warcraft? Is it even worth it?
Let’s forget about graphics, classes, and all those things for a moment. This isn’t a review; it’s a guide to a somewhat long-term-life decision.
When WoW was released in 2004, I was but a kid in middle-school that knew nothing of MMOs. After seeing it for the first time, I just had to play it, but circumstances at the time prevented me from doing so, with the most daunting to be the monthly subscription. I would then go on with my gaming life and first start with MMOs that had easier modes of payment like Guild Wars, and an innumerable number of F2P titles like Rohan Online.
Eventually, I finally found my way towards the subscription model MMOs, beginning with games like Final Fantasy XI and Star Wars: The Old Republic. When I got into games like those, I could hardly bring myself back to playing the F2P models. But I had almost forgotten the one game that actually piqued my interest in the genre. Even though I already had the financial conditions to support my gaming habits, I, like many people, was still wary of simply jumping in a subscription model. After all, these games are a lengthy and time consuming commitment in my point of view, so you always have to pick your partner well. But relying on reviews and opinions will only get you so far. Many things are said about WoW, but I’ve yet to find anything cohesive between these things. What else could I do? With many reservations, I found myself subscribing for the first time to WoW in late 2013.
With four expansions under its belt, the first hurdle that potential players have is the massive amount of content available. Knowing this, I was pretty discouraged when I kept thinking about all the things I had to catch up with, especially in the realm of PvP, something I enjoy the most in every MMO, and the unnerving level grind from 1 to 90, an aspect I do not enjoy at all. Reputations, gear, ratings, and the like swirled around my mind like a plague of locusts, incessantly gnawing at my inner thoughts wherever I go. It was at its worst when it even bothered me while on the can – my most sacred throne.
But with the same philosophy I have in life, I gave it a shot and I was not disappointed. I’m so used to playing MMOs while they’re still young, I had completely forgotten about how content progresses in MMOs. Of course, everything gets easier; everything is much more streamlined, with games continuously trying to accommodate the new player.
WoW isn’t a stranger to this with all the methods of leveling quickly, like the Recruit-A-Friend program that gives you and a friend three times the normal experience gained from any source, or the heirloom gear purchasable from certain vendors in-game that also boost experience gain and its stats scaling accordingly to your level. With a combination of these two and six friends I took along, we got to endgame in no time at all. There’s another method to get to 90 and it is the fastest, but also, in my opinion, the most unscrupulous. That’s a topic for another time, though.
What about older content, then? If you mean the older epic raids like Molten Core and Ahn’Qiraj, there really isn’t anything to worry about. Any of these raids you can solo as a 90 and are not disbarred from trying them out completely. True, you would never be able to experience these raids at their zeniths any longer and some raid rewards were only available when the content was current, but it’s still fun to revel in what must have been and to surround yourself in the rich lore of the game. You really didn’t miss out on much except for a few cool mounts and nifty titles that just meant you’ve played for a while. As for the others, like reputations and achievements, there really isn’t anything to catch up on, so to speak, but just things that you’ve never done before. You should always take these things at your own pace because it’s much more important that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Can’t Get Anywhere Without Gear (or Experience)
I, like many others, have a hang-up when I feel that I’m not current with the game I’m playing. Mists of Pandaria has been out for quite some time now and it can be felt even more now that Warlords of Draenor is on the rise. I asked myself, “Would I have enough time to experience everything MoP has to offer? If I don’t, will it matter in the next expansion? Will it be difficult to learn the ropes?” It turns out that the answers are all a plain “No”.
There are a lot of things for the newbie to learn, and those are things to be left on a personal level, but, fortunately, Blizzard made it easy for other things to be earned. The Looking-For-Raid (LFR) is a system that was entirely new to me when I first started. It was the first time I had ever heard of a large-scale instance that had its own mechanical queuing system. Though I have heard many WoW veterans that the game has seen better days before LFR’s advent, it just becomes a treat for newbies to get in all that action at once. LFR raids are the easiest versions of the endgame raids that are easily accessible by anyone with the proper level and item level requirements.
I was so surprised to see that Blizzard had a loot system, for the most part, that is entirely unique to WoW. Tired from all the sorts of loot drama that comes with endgame progression, they implemented a personal loot system that gives you a chance to receive gear without the hassles of a hunter needing on your intellect gear for no reason. This personal loot system is something I just fell in love with as it helps out newer players to get ready for the real deal after LFR and Flexible raids. It prepares newbies accordingly for the Normal and Heroic raids that have the regular loot-and-roll mechanic.
I then had no fear in getting gear on par with the veterans. The experience is speedy and hassle-free, discounting all the non-loot related drama, infighting, and fickle RNG, of course. But before you know it, you’re on your way to doing Normals and will eventually progress quickly to Heroics.
L2P, Noob. Seriously, Learn To Play
PvP is just as accessible as its counterpart. I’ll admit, I haven’t had enough time to play PvP as much as I do in other games on account of all the other things I can still do PvE-wise. I treat it as the ultimate endgame, which I do not consider me reaching yet. But from the, what I consider, little active player-versus-player action I’ve experienced, gear is just as easy to come by, though depending much more on what you queue for. In fact, it’s a lot easier.
There isn’t much else to say about it other than just to keep playing. You’ll get the highest PvP gear of the season in no time if you just love the spirit of competition and the way the game plays out in this aspect. If you want the arena gear, but don’t like PvP as much, why are you even bothering with this? Why are you even on a PvP realm? I’ve seen a lot of top players grind out an amazing rating with the lowest available gear of the season as well as using the hardest classes to compete with, indicating that it’s really more dependent on knowing the game. In short, practice. As they say; don’t hate the game, hate the player.
Friends With Benefits
Despite all the very welcoming aspects of WoW, all that will be rendered moot if the most vital ingredient that will influence your decision to play this game is missing: friends. Some people do prefer playing alone, but it isn’t as nihilistic as it sounds, considering that I’m one of those people as well. Getting into WoW became a lot easier since I shared the new experience with a couple of friends, give or take one or two of them that had prior experience back in its launch. I tend to do most content, like dailies or reputation grinds, solo, despite it being completely optional. Hell, you can basically do so many things by yourself, you’d think you wouldn’t need anybody else. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty of WoW, or any MMO in fact, you still need people to play with. I highly doubt someone can solo Heroic Garrosh at this point in time.
You need a raid team and/or you need a rated team. It’s just as simple as that. With a wry smirk, I chuckle whenever I see people spamming general chat with things like “LF 2s partner” or “3s anyone?” This is because I never felt the need to pug much other than 25 man raids. PvP is great for me since I don’t have to deal with randoms wrecking the game or being bad sports as I always have my own team to play with. If we win, awesome, if we lose, nice try anyway. PvE should be self-explanatory; we get the loot all for ourselves. No drama and no bad attitudes fluttering around like falling leaves in autumn, because it’s just me and my buddies having fun.
If it so happens that it’s your lot in life for your friends to have slightly different interests than you, or maybe even none at all, that’s pretty understandable. Real life RNG is way harsher than any game could ever have. But it isn’t the end of the world for you on that topic. WoW, or rather, most MMOs have a vast amount of player with different quirks and personalities. In my short time playing, I’ve befriended many people that have started to hang out with us and are now running larger and larger premades in raids or in battlegrounds. This just gets even better with the advent of cross-realm raiding and instancing, making it much easier to find people anywhere at anytime. Just be friendly and get to know people, don’t be shy and just go on and make conversation if there’s this player that you’d like to play with more often. I do have to admit; it is much harder finding these people than it is to befriend them. The massiveness of the populace can be a double-edged sword at times, but it isn’t impossible.
It’s Totes Worth It
When it’s all said and done, WoW is one of those games where we shouldn’t be daunted by the fact that it’s existed for about a thousand years now, but we should be focused more on how great the journey will be. All this doesn’t exactly only apply to WoW, but to every other MMO as well. The ideas of friends and loot system; it’s all really just how you treat it and how you take it in. For all I know, most people might prefer the loot and catch-up systems of Lineage II or EverQuest. There will always be a way for the new player to get in on the action and we shouldn’t be too caught up in a defeatist mentality. Whatever game tickles your fancy, just take the plunge; you’ll never know what you’ll find down there.Related: Column, Expansion, Fantasy, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday