Friday, 21 November 2008

Wrath of the Lich King Review

Reviewing a MMO is an impossible task. An early review can be skewed because you can only see a small percentage of the content. By the time you can give a fair review, is months down the line and no one actually cares what you have to say because they've seen it themselves. Wrath of the Lich King is so exciting I can't help but talk about it, especially because I know some of the readers of this blog have yet to jump aboard the ship or zeppelin to Northrend.

The Good:
I don't even know where to starts, I could go on for pages so I might just be adding to this section for the next few days.

- Since 3.0.2 we suffered lots of technical problems, but the launch was just fantastic. Most people simply logged into the game and were playing 5 minutes later. Makes the trouble of the last few weeks well worth it.

- The two start zones are just fantastic. Everyone will have their preference, but I liken it Lord of the Rings (Howling Fjord) and Jurassic Park (Borean Tundra), completely different films but both are great. I've wondered about some other zones too, and so far Storm Peaks blew me away. It just looks so huge and epic, added to the fact I have a huge soft spot for snowy zone (since I started playing the game in Dun Morogh and spent a lot of time in Winterspring grinding the mount). Actually most of the zones feel very epic.

- The music in the game is just fantastic. I've always liked some of the music in the game, but they have stepped it up a notch here. I've been torn between listening to the new Killers album or leaving the in-game music on whilst playing (usually Killers would win without a doubt). I briefly stepped into Lake Wintergrasp and the music there was so unusual, it had a bit of a Japanese influence which I loved. The quantity of music that has been created is hard to describe, it's no longer the same song remixed for every single zone. I can't wait to listen to the soundtrack I got with the collectors edition.

- The variety of quests they have is just staggering. The game is full of new ideas but even the popular old ones have been re-invented brilliantly. Tired of bombing runs? Well now you can hop on to a zeppelin (pretty exotic for an Alliance exclusive player) and throw bombs on pirates below. There's a fantastic quest chain where they use hunter and druid mechanics where not only do you own a bird pet but get to fly around as it later on. Which leads on to...

- The immersion into the world is just overwhelming. I remembering going to Outland for the first time and seeing a huge lava-fire zone (my worst type) and being told to kill 10 boars (I'm sure the Burning Legion was scared of that epic feat). Now you are explicitly told you're a hero of some renown within your faction. In Northrend everything seems to be built around the huge war that is taking place and there is a sense of urgency to all your actions. I really did not have a clue what the story about Outland was besides the usual vague details the quest givers gave. In Northrend it's hard to avoid the details and even if you don't read quest text, the Lich King might show up to make sure you do next time, spoiler (highlight to read;within 20 minut es of questing in Howling Fjord, I stumbled into the Lich King, and after telling me I was not ready to be his servent yet, he killed me. Even the kill 10 of "X" creature quests seem part of this massive effort, and usually have some other relates quests mixed in, so you barely notice them (although I am yet to visit the ass Hemet Nesingwary). The music, quests and zones really mesh together for a great experience. Even the world around you seems much more realistic. You'll see different types of mobs interacting with each other, not just ignoring each other like they usually do.

- Daily quests whilst leveling are also well made. Most are very easy, give great XP, good money and reputation to boot. In fact the entire world just seems very easy on XP, you can do 20 quests & one instance run, and be half way through your level. Most people will have a great deal of content to explore long after they hit 80.

- We may have had our flying mounts removed for a while, but the zones and quests really seem to get around that problem. The quests are well structured that you can do a large amount in a small area before being moved on to other areas. Traveling between these areas also seems to be made much easier. You'll get random rides (on planes for example) to random outposts with just a few quests. No more large rides to get flight paths like we did in TBC, the zones have many more.

- I've only had a 10 minute look at the Death Knight and so far I am loving it.

- Short instances? I love it. Blizzard tried to put forward the case that most Burning Crusade instances were 45 minutes, but I never bought it. I remember my first Shadow Labs taking two hours and Magister's Terrace four hours (both PuGs). You can genuinely PuG Utgarde Keep in half an hour and actually enjoy the experience. I've always been hesitant to go into instances not because I don't enjoy them, but because I hate bad PuGs, wiping continuously and realising an hour has passed and we just killed the second boss. I liked Post 3.0.2 Kara, and I like these new instances.

- I tried out the new BG, Strand of the Ancients, and it was confusing. But then what BG isn't the first time? Once I got my head around it, I think we may finally have a BG that's close to how great I feel Alterac Valley is.

- I should try to wrap this up, so I'll end by saying I love how even things like Reputations and Professions have been improved significantly.

- Dalaran; I feel this deserves its own final paragraph. The new Mage City is just amazing. It looks stunning and feels like a real city like the old Azeroth ones did (as opposed to Shattrath or Exodar). It doesn't capture the bustling medieval feel off Stormwind, the Elven tranquility of Darnassus, the might of the Dwarves in Ironforge, or the creepiness of Undercity. Instead it has its own unique character (unlike Shattrath which was just a portal to other places, oh and some Bird-men refugees you better avoid). Dalaran feels every bit as magical as you would expect a mage city to be, without overstating the fact (no Beauty & the Beast style living brooms like in the Blood Elf cities). Fountains where you can fish up wishing coins, toy shops where you can by train sets and vendors for everything you could want. But just like every great city, you have the under-classes (for mages that's every class that can't produce its own glass of Diet Coke with a spell) all residing in their own ghetto; in this case the sewer. I'll leave you to discover the place on your own, but I can see myself spending a lot of time here.

The Bad:
I had to think hard about these.

- I really don't understand Blizzards philosophy towards PvP gearing, because it goes against everything they're trying to push for in PvE. In case you don't know, all the PvP gear available at level 80 requires you to do Arena. Basically there will be 3 tiers; Blue quality gear which requires Arena points (no rating), normal Purple quality items that also require an Arena rating and finally the high end Purples that require a high level rating. Now for someone who enjoys BGs (mainly Alterac Valley) and has zero interest in Arena, we're basically forced into doing Arenas. It's the equivalent of telling people you can do 5 man instances but sorry you cant get any gear rewards till you step into a 10-man raid. Can you imagine the reaction? Blizz has really been pushing Arena and E-sports for a while, but I don't thinking forcing people is the way to go about it. I spent most of my level 70 end game (over 95%) in Battlegrounds, I think this will flip it the other way. I know the new Season does not start till December, so I'm still hoping they change their minds on this, but so far no one in the community seems to care. Maybe I'm missing something but at the moment I have no idea where I will be getting resist gear, so I won't be able to enjoy BGs even casually.

- I don't really know if this is actually the case, but it seems like Blizzard has really made professions overly difficult and expensive to level. There are plenty of money sinks in the game (even small items such as toys and year long drink kegs in Dalaran), and I feel this was an unnecessary move.

- Dalaran is the probably the greatest city that has ever been in the game, there is so much to do and see. I think there are some major design problems in how they made the city that just encourages lag. I've often heard of people complain about lag in Irongforge, Stormwind and especially Shattrath, but for me it's never been a problem. So for me to get 2 frames per second when the city is not even half as busy as Shattrath is worrying. I can only imagine it in a few weeks when more people make their way there. I've had reports from friends who find themselves disconnecting as soon as they enter the city. The problem will get worse because unlike Shattrath where people were quick to head off to their home capitals, the content of Dalaran only encourages you to stay longer. I really think making it slightly bigger and less cramped would have helped significantly. Luckily I've found the sewers don't suffer from this problem, so it's my hangout for the time being.

- Whilst the reputation shift from dungeons to quests is welcome, the structure of them is very confusing. Here's to some quick updates on WoWWiki.


- It's not all seruious, you'll still see plenty of Blizz humour all over the game.

- I want more non-combat pets! They have only added about four in the entire game, and only one that you can just buy without having to get reputation/achievements. Even that one was just a skull, which is a little bizzarre.

- Everyone should go to the sewers in Dalaran and look for some lootable bottles. They can turn you into a Tuskarr or one of the giant fireflies from Zangarmarsh. Good fun.

- The gnome female Death Knight voice is...weird. Just imagine your four year old cousin trying to do be Johnny Five from the Short Circuit films.

- Everyone needs to head to K3, the new Goblin Town. Some of the outfits the goblins are wearing are really funny, the flight master looks like a goblin-mummy. The wallpaper in one of the buildings is interesting too. Strange that the goblins never felt this cold in Winterspring.

- I think I might contact D.E.H.T.A. about the Tuskarrs' cruel treatment of sharks and giant turtles.

- I hear rumours of more poop quests. Win!

I've given enough glowing praise by now, so I don't have to repeat how much I am loving Wrath so far.

As usual, the spellings and grammar for this post won't be checked for a while (if ever, its way too long).
I have had a few posts I've wanted to make on the blog, but didn't know where to start. Now that I have the review out the way, we can get down to some business minded stuff tomorrow. Would love to hear your thoughts on the game. Also if you have actually got to the end of this overly long post, 10 achievement points to you!


Anonymous said...

Hey first of all I'm glad you enabled the Anonymous comments option. I would hate having to create an account so I can drop a comment.

Second, great job with the blog. I have it bookmarked and read every new post. You got some really good info here.

Regarding Wotlk... as far as I'm concerned it positively destroys everything else wow-related Blizz has produced so far. I'm a bit concerned about the PVP thing. I wasn't sure about needing Arena points for gear but I heard rumors. That would really suck for people who don't want anything to do with Arena.

I'm one of those (strange) people who like to solo everything in this game. That's my style, so sue me :) I enjoy leveling on my own with several alts, making gold in various ways and gearing up in the best way outside of instances. I refuse to go in a single instance even though I'm missing on some of the content because I used to be a raider a long time ago and it made me very addicted. Now, I'm at a casual level: I don't depend on anyone and no one depends on me. So part of my gear was gained from BGs (even though I don't like PVP as a rule) but now it will be a pain in the butt to do that, what with needing Arena points.

So anyway, besides this minor annoyance, the changes brought by 3.0.2 are incredible. They made me bring my pally out of the closet and level him all the way to 70, they improved shamans a lot and they changed a lot of other classes for the better. Yeah so I would say 3.0.2 was the biggest patch so far in the history of this game.

Finally, guess what... I haven't even upgraded to Wotlk :) Yep, since I'm so casual, I'm taking it easy but only because I want to accomplish several things before I upgrade, namely to bring 2 alts to 70 and get my pally exalted with Shattered Sun (while making some extra gold from the dailies). I'm really afraid of the DK. I'm afraid (from all I've been hearing) that it might become my new main :)

WoW Trader said...

Thanks for posting, and glad you like it.

I spend a huge amount of time playing solo, even though I like to be active in guild chat & have alot of friends in the game. Nothing wrong with going solo, its easier to meet your goals because you don't have to compromise your play style.
There is no rush to jump into Wrath, take your time, as long as you're having fun, it's no big deal.