Wednesday, 01 December 2004, 0:29:07 EST
For almost a month I have been idly playing Vendetta Online. It is a space based Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). I enjoyed it for a while and was particularly happy with the monthly fee and initial investment; it cost $9.99 per month and was a free download with a free eight hour trial to start. However, after playing it for a while I realized that to accomplish anything of any significance it would take me several play sessions and the work would be highly repetitive. Plus, I was not very good at attacking higher level bots or other players. Those two factors, combined with an elitist attitude held by a majority of the players that had been playing for the past four years during the alpha and beta phases, quickly turned me off of that game. I should never have played Vendetta because it reawkened a desire in me that I had killed off after the first couple years of Everquest (EQ1) — the desire to play a continuous online game.
After deciding that I would no longer play Vendetta I started thinking about my options. I had my choice between Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG), Everquest 2 (EQ2), or World of Warcraft (WoW); the later two were just recently released. I decided against SWG because the game already has an expansion out, which would mean even more initial cost, and its reputation for requiring massive amounts of time to accomplish anything. I have already quit one game because of that why would I start another? About the only thing EQ2 had going for it is the fact that Jason plays it and it would be a good way for me to keep in touch with him once he moves to L.A.. However, I have not heard anything about EQ2 addressing the issue of time investment for casual players (a.k.a. me). So, taking that in to consideration and the reason I left EQ1 (long story) I decided not to get EQ2 and settled on getting WoW.
So, last night I drug my roommate out to town and bought us both a copy so that we could play (he had been expressing interest in wanting to play a new game as well). One of my biggest gripes with MMORPGs is the initial cost followed up by a monthly fee. They claim that you "get the first month free" but you have really just paid a great deal more for the fist month than you will pay each consecutive month. My purchase of WoW has not changed that opinion; in fact, it has strengthened that opinion. I believe that if you are going to pay $50.00 for the box, and everything that comes in it, and then be required to pay a monthly fee to play that the packaging and contents should at least be worth a good portion of that initial investment. If you take a look at this picture you can see that the WoW box contains very little for that $50.00. All that is in the box is four CDs (why couldn't it be on DVD?) with a very poor container (paper sleeves? wtf?), the game manual, and a couple advertisements. That is pathetic. Oh well, at least I can play right?
And play I have. I played for about an hour and a half last night and attained level four with my gnome mage. The little bit that I played last night impressed me quite a bit. Today, I read a bit more about the game and how to play it and realized that this game really will cater to a casual gamer. I think the most important aspect that affects the casual gamer is the resting system. Basically, if you can't play for long periods of time you can be compensated by logging off in certain areas so that when you return to the game you are able to get twice the experience you normally would. That is really awesome. There are also two other features that help out the casual players and add a great deal to the game — map exploration and quests. As you reach new major areas in the game you fill in your in-game map and gain experience for "discovering" the area based on your level and the area you discovered. The game has an amazing number of quests and they are not all "take this letter to the next town" type quests either. One of the quests that I did this evening had me take a keg of ale to a tavern and switch it with the house ale in the store room as a bit of subterfuge on a rival brewers part. I spent about four hours tonight exploring and doing quests and had a really good time with it. I have a couple more quests lined up for the next time I can play that will get me some better class specific items and look forward to doing them. This is a good sign for me because I hardly ever join groups. If I ever find myself really wanting to get in a group it isn't going to be in a video game. I will either get together with friends in Real Life© or go to a club downtown playing some house or drum&bass (rarely happens).
So far, I would highly recommend World of Warcraft. It is a very smooth game and seems to be very well produced. It is also outselling any other MMORPG ever so those of you that are into these games because of the grouping will not be disappointed.
- video games