Warning: This is a nerd post.
With the new WoW expansion, Mists of Pandaria, I thought this would be a fitting topic. Also I just really like to talk gaming. Growing up as an only child, I played mostly one player games, and of course got very into RPG’s. My dad and I played a LOT of Gran Turismo together too, but the majority of my gaming was old school first-person shooters like Duke Nukem and Doom, or any RPG ever made. Ever. :)
All of these games had one thing in common, however. They had an ending. So even if I did all of the side quests and all of the mini games, because I’m a crazy person and HAD to have 100% game completion, it still would end eventually and I could get on with real life.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG), however, have no ending. So I knew better than to ever pick one up, because I knew with my anal tendencies I would, in turn, have no life. (On a side note, Anal Tendencies would be a sick band name.)
Of course, it was only a matter of time before I was really curious to see what all the hubbub was about with this whole World Of Warcraft thing. So I got a free trial, and spend seven days eating, sleeping, and breathing WoW. I knew better than to buy the game, so I called it a day, gave props to Blizzard for creating such an awesome game, and moved on.
A year later, I met an extremely awesome nerdy chick (you know who you are!) that was an avid WoW player. We were talking RPG’s, and I thought maybe I’d do another free trial just to play with her for a bit… and I lasted one night before I’d bought the game. Go willpower! Anyway, the point of this story is, yes, MMORPG’s are addictive as hell, but everything is okay in moderation. Except for chocolate. Chocolate is always okay.
Reason #5: Factions and Races
The point of an MMO is that there are bajillions of people playing it at once. They’re all split up over different servers to keep this at bay (called Realms in-game), but it’s rare to have a playing experience where you don’t run into other real people playing.
When you start, you can pick a race. There are thirteen in all, six for the Alliance Faction (the ‘good’ guys) and six for the Horde Faction (the ‘bad’ guys), and the almighty Pandas that choose at level 10 which faction they want to join. The mere fact that there are two main factions to the game creates a kickass competitive edge that really keeps the game interesting.
The races themselves are diverse, and hilariously voice acted. The Humans sounds like apple-pie bible salesmen, the Dwarves are Scottish drunks, and the Gnomes sound like they’re either from New Jersey or Jewish. The Goblins sound like Gilbert Gottfried, the Draenei (horned aliens with hooves for feet) are Russian, the Trolls are Jamaican, and the Pandaren (seriously, pandas) sound like Chiun from Remo Williams. This makes for some seriously entertaining gameplay. Throw in some fun names for the NPC’s like Alicia Kuthbert, Audrey Burnhep and Maggyver, and I’m giggling like an idiot while I’m shooting things.
Each and every one of these races has their own unique starting area and history, and I am a sucker for immersive storyline (see also: Final Fantasy 7). My badass Night Elf Hunter has a long tough history of battling the Horde with her pet raptor by her side. See, if I could have a zombie-killing pet raptor in real life, I wouldn’t need video games.
Reason #4: Questing
For playing with friends or playing alone, there are quests to be had. Some may argue that some quests are repetitive, but there are subtle differences that keep them fresh. And honestly, I don’t think it would be possible to have every single quest in that game be completely different. There are too many.
I love questing. I don’t do raids, I did a dungeon once, but I don’t get the same satisfaction as just going through a questline. And if I find that I’m staying in one place too long because there are too many quests, I just move on to either a different area of the same level or a slightly higher level area that I know I can still conquer with my mad skills.
Some of the quests are ridiculously awesome. You get your run of the mill ‘kill twenty rabid cheetah’ quests, or ‘collect all the explosives we accidentally left all over the forest’ quests, but sometimes I’ll get a ‘get in the hot air balloon and drop bombs on pirates’ quests. Whee!
Reason #3: The World Itself
Most people watch movies, read books, or play video games for the escape of mundane day to day life. It lets you explore a different world from the comfort of your own home. WoW is quite a vast world to explore. I have spent a lot of time just truckin around on my flying carpet just to see what’s around.
The different countries and provinces are so diverse it’s amazing they can keep coming up with these environments. The Pandaren starting island is (SPOILER) on the back of a fucking turtle, bringing one of my favourite creation myths to (virtual) life. All of the Night Elf areas have crazy amazing (craymazing?) trees with houses built in and around them. And some of the towns are just so detailed, with so many structures and rooms and people to get stuff from… I know I’m a total geek but it’s fun to explore.
Reason #2: The Auction House
So there’s this subculture of WoW players that only play the game to buy and sell stuff on the Auction House. They get made fun of by other WoW players… which is actually kinda sad.
When I play any kind of game, one of my biggest priorities is making as much in-game currency as I can. It’s handy for your characters to be rich for obvious reasons, but in WoW specifically it’s a huge perk because you can level up professions faster and get really cool mounts and pets.
Basically at the end of any of my game sessions, I mail any materials to my AH Bitch, which is a level 5 Gnome that just stands in front of the AH in Ironforge all the time. Forever. I know, I’m a slave driver. So then I log in as her, check out what the materials are selling for, and if they’re really expensive I’ll sell mine for just a little less. If they’re going for cheap I’ll buy out every single one and then resell everything for super expensive, therefore screwing everyone else looking for those materials. Yes, I am an asshole, but this is how I make my gold. And it feels gooooood.
Reason #1: Professions
Okay, so if you’re still reading, this is really where I’m going to lose cool points. Professions are what honestly keep me playing this game. In First Aid you make bandages out of cloth you can find around the world, Cooking you cook dishes that give you health and/or mana, Fishing you fish (seriously!), and Archaeology you go around digging for artifacts.
I have a cooking addiction. My main character is a hunter, which means she has a pet to help her fight, and she uses a bow and arrow. It’s rare that I ever even need to use healing items, so there’s honestly no point in me cooking anything, but you know. One hundred percent game completion, I’m crazy, okay, get over it. I’ve also learned that there aren’t that many fish on the AH, or at least never the ones that I need at any given time, so I’ve had to fish.
Yes, folks, sometimes I lay in bed and cast a virtual fishing rod into virtual water to catch virtual fish. I read somewhere that it takes over 4000 casts to max out the fishing profession. Sad, sad times. Don’t get me wrong, I love fishing outdoors with real gear, it’s one of my favourite summer pastimes, but unfortunately I can’t transfer my brown trout into WoW in order to make food out of it. So, yeah, that’s a thing.
There are many other secondary professions, of which you can only pick two for your character to have. You can switch them out at any time, but if you do that you have to start back from 1, which sucks. There are gathering professions, Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning, in which you collect either ore and jewels, herbs, or animal skin. I like these the best because those materials all sell very well on the AH. The crafting professions utilize these materials to create armor, weapons, bags, clothing, or enchantments for items, spells, and skills. My favourite crafting profession is Tailoring, because although it’s annoying to spend gold buying cloth or spend time farming it, you can make some really awesome shit. My first flying mount was a homemade flying carpet. Best way to travel, friends.
Anyway, I’m off to play with my Panda.
… that’s what she said. ;)