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A Month at Warcraft: the first five levels (and reminded of Aion)

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So it begins...

Since I’m spending this month getting re-acquainted with WoW, I thought that it might be a good idea to share this revisit with you all. We all know that “going home” isn’t always the same as when you first started, for better or worse. I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this series complaining about how WoW needs to change this, that, or the other. The goal here is to look at what it’s like to return to a game once you’ve been gone from it. I’m not planning on playing my level 80 mage much either, since I think that would spoil the newness of this go round.

This time, I wanted to change things up from my last big level-up, so I decided to roll a Horde paladin on the Perenolde server. I’d never had a character there before, so this would be a fresh start, through and through. The first thing that happened after logging in, a big error window popped up reminding me to update my addons. After that was done, which was much harder than when I’d left (we miss you, WoWMatrix), I went about the newbie quests.

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Trees of purest cardboard?

The second thing that stuck out to me was just how outdated even The Burning Crusades graphics seem now, when I’d stopped noticing last I left off. I loved the stylized graphics, and still do, but I’m noticing just how blocky and pixelated everything seems now. I know that Blizzard doesn’t want to upgrade their pre-expansion graphics but for someone looking in for the first time, or looking back after time away, it’s a definite step down.

Ironically enough, the simplicity is what gives the newbie experience it’s immediate charm. You’re thrown into an environment that asks very little of you and immerses you in the fantastic. This is something that most games emulate to get new players acquainted but it’s undeniable that WoW does it in such a way that expertly blends simple game with virtual fantasy. Even though what you’re actually doing (and able to do) is incredibly limited, there’s an essence of something more being behind the horizon at all times. What stands out to me too, is that these early levels are virtually no different than the later ones, sans being a little closer together. Thus, this experience is the experience players can expect before dungeoning and a good indicator of why quality of content post-intro is so important to maintain.

Then again, if it was up to Syncaine, these new mobs would simply wipe the floor with you and call you names when you fell down. So, I guess the charm in simplicity only works for some people and probably wears thin for everyone from time to time.

So, with all of this talk of charm, these first five levels makes me look forward to Aion even more. Aion does exactly what WoW does and brings it up to date in just about every way. One of the biggest selling points for Aion is that it’s polished, yet it’s criticized for being no different than WoW. The early levels show exactly why Aion will be a success. They take the formula that works, perfect it, and then improve upon it. The fact that I can be playing WoW and comparing it to Aion in a positive light is nothing short of great.

WoW is a fun game because it takes ideas, makes them their own (more or less), and improves upon them. Aion taking this idea to heart is only a good thing for those of us who want a game we know will have lasting power. It’s not revolutionary, but games that have tried haven’t done so well, all things considered. So, while playing my new paladin, I had fun and the prospect of more fun in the future. When Cataclysm comes, I’ll probably subscribe to both games.

That’s about it for now. I decided to cut myself off at level five until I can meet up with some friends this evening and continue. For now, it’s off to enjoy Batman: Arkham Asylum until the wife gets home.

Taking a cue from Darren at Common Sense Gamer, C out!

PS: Is it strange that I felt a little guilty playing WoW instead of LotRO when LotRO offers much the same with better looks? Don’t worry Sodality, I’m not done yet 🙂

2 comments

  1. Syncaine

    Your line that you link to my blog is rather funny, because in DarkFall that’s exactly what most players will experience when they fight their first goblin (or rather goblins, since they gang up on you), death and the NPC goblin talking about how weak you are. It’s nice to finally have variety in the MMO space 🙂

    1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

      hehe, I agree. I actually thought Darkfall was a lot of fun because you couldn’t solo through the whole thing. As someone who started playing real MMOs after WoW came out, I didn’t get to experience a whole lot of “forced grouping” and when I did it was a blast! My guild decided to move on though, so I let my subscription lapse. I’ve been tempted to give it a go again without them though. Do you still have to buy the game again to play on the NA-1 server?

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