I wrote back in February that I felt like I was missing out by not playing Blizzard’s insanely popular MMO, World of Warcraft, and although it took me long enough to make the jump I’ve started playing it today. I’m still on a break from spending, but the new PC Gamer UK comes with a full copy of the game (both PC and Mac versions) on their disc complete with 14 days of free play. It’s a limited account (you can only get to level 20 and you can’t trade with other players, for example), but it’s better than nothing until I can afford to pick up the real thing and take on the monthly fees.
If you’re in the UK and have been dithering about whether or not to take the plunge it’s a very good way to see if you like it – £5.99 for 14 days of WOW, complete with a load of other demos and mods on DVD and even a free copy of PC Gamer thrown in. I doubt that’s how the publishers like to see it but that’s how it is with me.
Anyway, what are my impressions? Since the trial copy, like the retail version, contains both the Windows and Mac versions on the same disc I was interested in using my PC (Pentium 4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, Radeon 9700 Pro, Windows XP Home SP2) as the primary system and installing it on my more modest iBook (1.2GHz G4, 768MB RAM, Radeon 9200, Mac OS X 10.4.2) for portable use. I started as a Tauren who admittedly don’t have the most graphically-intensive starting area but the iBook seems to hold up well. It’s obviously never going to win any awards for graphics on that hardware but it’ll be fine for quick blasts when I’m away from home. I’ve yet to try it on the PC because as soon as I had it installed on the iBook I proceeded to play about three hours of it.
The game is, as I’m sure you’ve heard, very addictive. Quests take a decent amount of time but whatever you’re doing you find that “just one more” syndrome takes over, whether you’re promising yourself “just one more quest” or “just one more level”. I’m not entirely convinced by the combat and it can take an annoyingly long time to travel long distances, even on the tiny section of map that I’ve explored, but the size and scope of the world is so immense that it’s easy to be immersed in it. This is my first MMORPG (unless you count Phantasy Star Online and very short stints in the Guild Wars and City of Heroes betas) and already I can see how some people become so addicted to them. Blizzard seem to have succeeded in their usual trick of mastering a genre on their first attempt.
If you want to meet up I’m a level 4 Tauren warrior on the Arathor server, and the character name should be obvious. I think you need to have a European copy of the game to play there but I’m up for some play if anyone wants to.