by Mike Shea on 30 December 2007
Last weekend I decided to spend a little more time in World of Warcraft. I've been paying a $16 a month fee with very few hours logged into it and thought it was time to either begin playing again or cut the subscription. Though there are a slew of good console games out now, many of which I received for Christmas, none of them stand up to World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft is the best game ever made. That sounds almost sarcastic but if you consider a few points, it is hard to argue. First, it has over ten million subscribers all over the world. Two, it has been within the top ten selling PC games for nearly its entire life. Three, even after three years, the game looks beautiful and makes it extremely easy to get in and start playing. It brought Massive Online Games to the masses.
So last weekend I moved servers and switched guilds to a very large alliance guild, Lemming Juice. I spent some time learning about the more recent daily quests, the new Gladiator gear being available to battleground players, and all of the dirty details of reputation grinding. I finally earned enough to buy my first flying mount, an item that truly changes the game, and even earned about 300 gold in a single weekend in daily quests, daily PVP quests, instances, and cleaning out some older quests I hadn't quite gotten around to.
There are quite a few paths a player can take in WoW after reaching level 70, but none of them are particularly easy. You can earn a new piece of epic-level gear by completing about ten to twenty heroic instances. You can earn reputation with about five or six different groups to unlock sets of rare and epic items. You can play in the PVP battlegrounds over and over until you earn enough honor for the Gladiator set of epic PVP armor. You can focus on getting your Karazhan key and begin hoping you can slide into a raid there. You can also earn 5000 gold and go through a huge set of quests to get your very own Netherdrake mount. That's a lot of available material.
However, all of those things take a whole lot of time. Fifteen heroic instances can take 45 hours of time for a single piece of gear. Faction grinding also takes hundreds of quests and thousands of kills to unlock just one of the factions. Earning Gladiator gear in the battlegrounds can take hundreds of hours even though the WoW populists refer to this gear as "welfare epics". That's a lot of time to spend on relatively minor upgrades compared to the jumps found pre level 70. Going into the Outland is a pretty big jump. Going from one flying mount to another isn't nearly as big a jump and can take thousands of hours.
Perhaps the effort is better spent on a new character. If you pick the right race you can see a lot of new places and play through all new quests that you wouldn't have seen with your first character. You also open up your options for groups. The most fun I've had in World of Warcraft has come in two areas: group instances and leveling from 1 to 20.
To this end, I've decided that my primary goal with my level 70 hunter, Glave, is to experience as many of the instances as I can. I ran through three this weekend that I hadn't seen yet and I loved them. I also plan to work on my Karazan key so I can see this popular ten-man dungeon. In a few weeks Blizzard will also release a new island with new five-man instances and a new raid. The raid is well beyond me but the five-man instances should be a lot of fun.
It feels good to be playing World of Warcraft again. It is a beautiful game with some excellent gameplay and the best character development I've seen. It isn't perfect, but right now its the best out there.