WoW: A Free Day Brings Shattered Thoughts

After hearing Scary mention that he was offered seven free days on his WoW account, I decided to check in myself. For some reason, I didn’t receive any email offering the time but I was able to redeem the time just by going to the WoW section of my Battle.net account. Thanks Blizzard! The perfect trial to see if I’d like to come back now or sometime after Cata launches.

I’d already downloaded the patches overnight – two hours with using mirrors, the Blizzard downloader offered around 7 – so I was ready to go almost right away. Or so I thought. The patches I needed totaled around 5GBs and, strangely enough, the launcher needed another update of a whopping 1.5GBs! These are the times when I’m happy I have Time Warner and 10Mb down. I took the time to update my addons, quick and easy with the Curse Updater. I forgot to enable the out of date ones anyways, and half of them were STILL broke, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

I don’t like cows, so when all was said and done, I got in and made myself a Troll druid. I don’t really like Trolls either… but they’re better than cows. So, for lack of a better option, I gave birth to a brand new Syeric with the biggest and yellowest tusks I could muster.

Some druids want to help nature. I just want to gore things. I don’t mean some piddly squat skill with a splash-red animation. I want to jam my face into the meaty side of a pig and shake it like a pola-roid picture. I’m halfway there with these tusks. Get on it Blizz. I want more blood in my kids game.

That’s not really true, the kids game part, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was running around in a cartoon. That’s not an insult. Far from it, actually. I love the unique feel of WoW’s art style. The Echo Isles are are beautiful mess of over saturated colors, outlandish architecture, and jungle trees. Anytime you scroll back and get a bit of the horizon on your screen, the entire thing takes on the feel of a portrait. The new water effects actually add a lot to that. Where the old water was kind of stock “this is 2001 video game water” stuff, the new art has this whitish, paint-like sheen. When you’re swimming above the surface it feels much more like swimming through paint than water. Remember the afterlife in the Robin Williams flick, What Dreams May Come? Yeah, like that.

The graphics may not be cutting edge... but do they need to be?

I’m only level five as of this writing, but the questing experience seems much improved. It’s Northrend meets Azeroth, right off the bat – after your first few tutorial quests. So far, I’ve used a whistle to lure baby raptors, fought a raid boss, lassoed and mounted a wild animal, and watched a friend die. This is all nothing much new for those of us who played WotLK, but it is leaps and bounds above the starter experiences of yesteryear.

Speaking of, the narrative element of the troll tutorial is really good. Quest text is still short – 250 characters or less! – but there’s often several pages of conversation dialogue to read through. There’s also a lot of of voice acting going on, which is up to Blizzard’s usual level of quality. The only complaint I have is that, after the raid boss, you visit Vol’jin who invites you to listen while he contacts Thrall. I’ve sat there while I’ve AFK’d for the last half hour and it’s yet to start.

Overall though, these first five levels have been fun. Not Death-Knight-Tutorial fun, but still a good time. Right now I’m still not sure if I’ll resubscribe or not. After only five levels I’d like to continue on to see the rest of Azeroth but I don’t have a lot of interest in taking up the dungeon game again. That will probably change, but there’s nothing right now that makes me scream “oh my gosh, I have to get right back into this again.”

Where do they keep getting these bones?!?

You have to look at this through the eyes of a new player though; this new content wasn’t really made for me. It was made for new players coming to the game for the first time. I say that because it’s obvious they’re not trying to up the bar for players who have already played their high end content, like that DK tutorial. For a new player though, these first few levels are very good. They put you into a beautiful, immersive world (apart from the players) with a strong narrative element and a great emphasis on gameplay. The polish here is spectacular and a cut above any other game I’ve played for non-instanced questing. One particular naga quest has a heroic music cue, for example, that starts right when you enter the cave. It’s hard not to swell up a little bit at that.

I’ve rejoined with the K&G community guild, the Happy Fun Guyz (read: Happy Fungis… orcs in WAR), back on my very first server, Emerald Dream. I actually tapped in with my first guild ever too and spent some time seeing how they’ve all been. For a first few hours back, it’s been good. I’m not ruling out getting back into the game like I once was (though, I’ll forever be a nomad). The main issue right now is dealing with being a lowbie again. It’s hard to go from 80 to square one again. Whether I keep with it will really depend on how good the leveling is. Six more days!

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