How Long Will WoW Continue To Wow Us?
By Kei Beneza, OnRPG Journalist
When talking about MMORPGs, you are definitely not an MMO gamer if you are not familiar with World of Warcraft. Throughout its years of excellent service, the game has provided its subscribers with massive content and a line up of expansions that keep the world of Azeroth new and rich with adventures. With 3 successful installments some people say that the game is merely extending its currently depleting lifespan, nothing seems to stop subscribers from burning their credit cards for more Azerothian goodness. Up till today, World of Warcraft is still considered as a giant in the MMO industry, but is it really just extending its time on this world?
WoW Killers UNITE!
For four years, people have been speculating about the would-be WoW killers of the MMO scene, the same way they did with EverQuest a few years ago. Everytime a new MMO trailer comes out, people would just rave about it being the next big thing. Since technology is evolving extremely fast, one of the most arguable matters in this aspect is the game’s graphics. While the game tries to provide us with more textures and “flashier” gears, nothing can change the fact that the game looks old for the nextgen spectrum; however, the developers did say that WoW was made to resemble the original Warcraft 3 graphics. In a way, WoW has proven itself to be an MMO benchmark, as it brought us an array of unique features that most new titles tend to replicate. Sometimes, a non-WoW feature from MMOs in development alone can spark a WoW-killer speculation, but so far, none were successful. So what separates WoW from its competitors?
Azerothian Goodness: What Makes It Different
Azeroth, in my experience is more than just a 3D virtual plane that allows players to kill monsters and buy items. While some MMOs dump players into a virtual wasteland full of monsters to kill and potions to buy, WoW concentrates on providing players with the ability to embed themselves into the famous Warcraft storyline. The best part about this game is that you are not only travelling to discover different enemies, but to unravel the rich lore that adds up to your individual storyline. Yes, almost every area in the game has a story to tell, and the inhabitants also have their tales to tell. If I were to sum up my character’s life in Azeroth, it would be the same as telling my own unique story (provided that I don’t bore my friends to death). Sometimes, players would just explore the huge world rather than fight to know more about the lore, which is rather rare for an MMO to possess. The world changes drastically depending on how much the story has progressed. A good example would probably be the upcoming charring of Azeroth, which will end up burning and changing the virtual world of Warcraft as we know it. The story continues….
For The Past 6 Years: Scripts
Since its grand debut on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has given players a continuous barrage of MMO goodness. One of the first notable features of the game is the instanced dungeons. Although the dungeon concept was not founded by WoW, the game managed to deliver dungeon scripts that are unmatched even up to this date. Unlike some MMOs that mostly focuses on random instanced butchery (hack n’ slash-type), World of Warcraft provides puzzles and maze-like labyrinths that keeps the instance from being repetitive and linear. The boss scripts are also superb, in my opinion, seeing that it is far from the typical ‘tank and spank” method. Each boss fights differently, and requires a gratuitous amount of teamwork in order to beat.
To be honest, I myself didn’t think highly of WoW until after I’d played it. At first, it was like any other game out there, until the instanced dungeons made me fall in love with its MMO goodness. One moment we were tanking and spanking Kael’thas like any other MMO pitboss, and the next thing I knew, we were floating in the air helpless as he feeds on the weak ones. Like I said, I have never seen any other game that exercises this amount of teamwork in PVE (Player versus Environment).
The most epic part during the early days was the 40-man-raid, which (as you can see) has now been reduced to a mere 25-man-party. If you think gathering 40 players to join your party was easy, then you guessed wrong. Still, it would be nice to raid with that many players once more.
Another awesome factor is the game’s number of quests, which I would say is impossible to finish with just one character. It’s rather tiring if everyone’s doing the same thing, which is why WoW has provied us with a huge load of quests to choose from. This makes it easier for players to level, creating a non-linear path for characters and preventing them from leveling the same way or from the same spot. It does get pretty hard when players of your level are hunting for the same monster, right?
“Oh look! a gobli—— *SWASH*— aw man… too late… now I’ll have to wait for it to respawn!”
Patches And Expansions: Not Your Typical Add-on
Much like other MMOs, World of Warcraft managed to give players epic expansions that continue to change and enrich both its gameplay and storyline. I’m not just talking about new classes and character rebalancing, but more adventures and diversity than ever before. The patch trailers are also unique and epic in way, as it prepares and hypes players for the upcoming dungeons and events. WoW also features ingame prologues that sort of acts like the patch trailers, but with you in it. A good example would have to be the ingame event that took place before the release of Wrath of the Lich King back in November 2008. During this event, monsters started appearing inside towns, signifying the presence of the powerful King of the Undead. There, heroes like Sylvanas and Warchief Thrall decided to aid the players in an attempt to save their main town from the Scourge. I personally have never experienced this much player-game interaction from most of the MMOs out there (and I assure you that I HAVE played a lot of them). The experience was just so enthralling, I couldn’t wait to see what will happen next.
You Just Got To Love Those Rebalances
Another feature that separates WoW from its competitors is its continuous character rebalancing, which gives players a new PVE and PVP tier list after each patch. Unlike other games, the rebalances are quite superb in this game, meaning that Paladin won’t be stalking you for long. After playing a lot of different titles, I have concluded that most of them only give patches for 2 reasons: bug fixes, and new content. The changes are indeed game-changing and provides a semi-new experience for players who love character customization and continuous change of playstyles. After the implementation of each patch, new combos and hybrids are made, allowing players to experiment further and try out different parts of the skill trees that they once rendered useless.
WoW can still manage to sneak up some pretty good surprises throughout the years. With the steady growth of flash games these past two years, who would think that WoW would acknowledge this gaming trend and incorporate it within their own game? Now if you find that questing and grinding is turning linear and boring for the mean time, you’d probably unwind and kill a few undeads in Plants vs Zombies. But why would WoW want you out of their game, why not just play their own WoW version of it and get EXP in the end?
Wanton Murder (PVP)
If you think that dungeons and questing are the only factors that make WoW what it is, wait until you try the game’s PVP system. Aside from the open world PVP system, the game also features instanced PVP arenas known as BATTLEGROUNDS. Each Battleground has its own system, meaning it’s not just a simple game of capture the flag. Alterac Valley, for example lets players duke it out to see which faction takes control of the whole map, while Isle of Conquest sports the attack and defense system. Riding a tank has never been this good.
There’s also an all-out Alliance versus Horde PVP that takes place every 2 hours and 30 minutes. The Battle for Wintergrasp, as they call it, lets players fight for one of the most famous raid dungeons in the game. Once a faction gains control of the dungeon, the other faction will be unable to access it unless they want a barrage of axes from the guards.
Why Wish It Dead?
What people seem to forget is that EverQuest has been around for more than 11 years, and is still going strong with a steady subscription rate. When it comes to graphics and visuals, it is clear that WoW has the upper hand. And since THE ORIGINAL EverQuest is still launching boxed expansions up to this point, and since World of Warcraft is still running smoothly up to point, I’m sure that it will top that.
Speculations On The Game’s Scope: Why It Will End Soon
To shed some light on these WoW-killer speculations, I went online to ask fellow players about their thoughts on WoW. According to them, the game is still steady, but it is clear that they will have to yank elements from out of the lore to keep it going.
“They already released DeathWing, so I guess that instantly extends the game’s lifespan for another two years. The only problem here is that once they run out of main villains, the game may enter a standstill.”
I personally think that this claim is correct, seeing as WoW is currently lore-dependent and will need epic villains to keep the story running. DeathWing, in my opinion, is already a farfetched character to begin with. Maybe they do need to expand the lore soon.
Again, new MMOs have surfaced, bringing us new content and various methods of gameplay. World of Warcraft may have been the innovator of some features, but note that competition is tight, as new MMOs try to overthrow this MMO giant.
What Is In Store For Us?
For years, World of Warcraft has given us nothing but quality content, and although the thought of free-to-play games lurking the Internet sounds tempting, WoW still managed to keep their subscription rate while its competitors drop it for item malls and free-to-play gameplay. In my opinion, the players are aware that they are indeed paying for quality content. The mere fact that they were given massive updates and a healthy community ranging up to 12 million people make the subscription fees seem cheap in a way. So what IS in store for us? Other than the next two races made available by the next expansion, and the epic reforging of Azeroth, I’m guessing that we’ll be getting MORE of the same things we have come to know and love about WoW. Character rebalancing, instances, quests, and more STORYLINES, all adding up to the epic lore of Warcraft :).
So will WoW be dying anytime soon? Are you scared of buying an account just because speculations have led you into thinking that World of Warcraft is about to hit the dirt? Allow me to tell you that the story is indeed far from over, and that you will still be playing with tons of players. To be honest, the game system is not the only reason why World of Warcraft is good—it’s the adventure, and the diversity of what players can experience everytime they log in or create a character. As a longtime player, I cannot wait to see what they will do next. What are you waiting for? Jump in!