If you’re a lapsed Warcraft player who hasn’t logged on for a while you might want to get online now and check out the Hallow’s End (Halloween to anyone else) celebrations that started a few days back. I’m probably over-excited about it because it’s my first world event as I’m a recent convert to the fold, but it’s amusing to confuse new players by giving them pirate, ninja, or other costumes.
As well as having pumpkin decorations and hanging ghost effigies in the middle of all the towns and settlements, you can go apple bobbing for health-restoring apples, and best of all you can go up to any innkeeper and trick or treat them – most of the time you’ll get a treat bag with something cool in them, but other times you’ll get tricked:
That’s the only time it happened to me but I was turned from a hulking tauren warrior into that emasculated little demon thing that couldn’t attack or anything. Until I turned back I did the only thing that could be done – ran into the middle of a raid and farted on everyone. Treat bags give you food items like candy bars to restore you health, but you can also get Halloween masks (I’m a tauren but somehow still ended up with a tauren mask) and the best things: wands that let you give other players random costumes. They range from the aforementioned ninja and pirate costumes to bats and weird, disembodied spirits.
It’s not going to be long until the Christmas celebrations start (American players would have seen it last year but this is the first one that most European players will experience) so I’m looking forward to that now. This game is awesome, yet also frightening when I found out about the /played command which shows how long you’ve played. It was one day and six hours when I checked several days ago and I’ve been scared to look since, and I’m only level 17.
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.
Saving for my September trip to Japan is draining all of my money which means that £30 on a game and £8.99/month to play it is simply out of the question at the moment, and that makes me sad.
My experience with the MMORPG genre is limited to say the least, consisting of around 20 hours of Phantasy Star Online (if that’s even a real MMO), a few hours on last year’s E3 demo of Guild Wars, and a couple of hours on the European City of Heroes beta. Until I decided that I was going to Japan I was saving my proverbial MMO cherry for World of Warcraft, knowing from the early buzz that it was going to be something special.
Indeed it is a very special game, with Blizzard doing what they do best by almost perfecting a genre on their first attempt while the competition spend years fixing bugged and flawed games, launch issues aside. As I regular on IGN’s PC General Board I read about people pouring days into it, and Penny Arcade‘s blanket coverage and outpouring of praise didn’t help my situation. As it stands I’ve still yet to set foot in Azeroth and I’m beginning to feel like I’ve missed the boat.
By now the vast majority of players will be fairly experienced and will know the ropes, so I know that as soon as I drop it as a little lvl. 1 thing with no clue what I’m doing, I’m going to be the n00b of the bunch for a long time. I will have missed out on those early days of intrepid exploration as people make the first ventures into the wider world, and there won’t be much for me to find that others haven’t already seen and told the world about already.
By the time I’ll have any spare money to play it at all it’s going to be October, the boat will probably have well and truly sailed with only the die-hard obsessives remaining, and there will be something else on the horizon. The last thing I want to do is be stuck playing with the kinds of bottom dwellers who get pissed off with you if you don’t roleplay your part. Maybe the game’s popularity will be enduring and I’ll have my chance to play it, but with so many other games to come in the meantime am I going to care? Time will have to tell on that one.