I'd like to think of myself as huge a secret nerd, i suppose writing this review is like coming out of the nerd closet as i keep my online gaming to myself ... I have a sneaking suspicion that this might just be my longest review yet as i'm going to cover all the expansions so far and maybe even a little look into the latest. So prepare yourself for a long winded slightly opinionated crack of the whip at Blizzards World of Warcraft series.
World of Warcraft is the worlds most popular online game with over 10 million subscribers across the globe, although i'm sure the majority of you reading this knew that already! The game is developer Blizzard's fourth game in a series set in the fantasy universe known as Azeroth, a setting that takes heavy inspiration from dungeons and dragons. The difference with this installment of the Warcraft series is that Blizzard has taken a vastly different approach from the DOTA style games they're used to churning out and instead on November 23rd 2004 (The 10th anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans) the groundbreaking MMORPG was released.
I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt, sitting down to play World of Warcraft for the very first time is possibly one of the best gaming experiences any gamer can have. You begin with creating your very own in game character, which is one of the hardest choices in the game in my opinion with so many races and classes to pick from you find yourself creating every possible combination you can until you find something that suits your style of play, for example if you like to get into the thick of the action pick a warrior, if you like to keep out of the way and help everyone else roll a priest! The choices presented are well and truely overwhelming for a new player.
The aim of the game can vary depending on what kind of gamer you are (See the similarities here when it comes to how you can play the game?) depending on what realm you pick. Some of the realms cater to role-playing fans that prefer to play in character the whole time, while other realms are made for player-versus-player action. Or if you really want you can just play an ordinary realm. Although since the latest expansion came out it doesnt matter which realm you pick as a lot of the activitys in the game are cross-realm.
The games major accolade is that after countless hours spent playing you just don't want to stop unlike most other games, if you've done enough questing for the day you can go explore one of the various beautifully made zones in Azeroth, team up with your friends to take on a dangerous dungeon for epic loot or if you're in a destructive mood take part in some war games and take on your rival faction in a battleground. The possibilitys are endless.
World of Warcraft provides a constant stream of variety for the player, the combat system isfast, inter-changeable and action-packed! battles that are fun and intense, whether you're fighting alone or in a group. Blizzard well and truely hit gaming gold when they made World of Warcraft.
Of course though with every good game comes updates and over the past eight years three expansions have been released with a third on its way in the not so distant future. The first expansion of the series was World of Warcraft: The burning crusade. This expansion saw the unveiling of a whole new zone Outland which is far far away from Azeroth through a portal, these lands are inhabited with demons last seen in Blizzards Warcraft III. As well as the new zone and antagonists the expansion saw the level cap raised from 60 to 70 and the introduction of Blood elves (Horde) and Draenei (Alliance). Overall i found the questlines and new zone in the Burning Crusade fairly fairly enjoyable but the new races just didn't do it for me.
The second expansion released was World of Warcraft: The Wrath of the Lich King. The highly anticipated expansion was released in November 2008 and at the time was the fastest selling game of all time shifting over 2.8 million copies in 24 hours. New to this expansion saw another new zone uncovered, Northrend a continent for higher level players to explore and conquer with areas such as Grizzly Hills and the Howling Fjord being touted by many as the best zones ever created by Blizzard in WoW. Aside from this Wrath of the Lich King also introduced the Hero class Death Knight, an evil class that can played as by any race in the game. Death Knights start at Level 55 and are a mixture of a few different classes rolled into one. Once again the level cap was raised by ten to 80. Personally for i found this expansion underwhelming in terms of content other than the new zone.
The mother of all expansions came early last year, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, one that i myself being a veteran of the game and many other found on one hand absolutely amazing and on the other devastating, as what all Warcraft nerds grew to love was destroyed. In Catalysm an evil dragon aspect, Deathwing the Destroyer has made his way through an elemental plane of Deepholme which has caused the world to fall into a state of cataclysm changing the landscape forever. Along with these changes came a whole handful of new zones for higher level players including an Indiana Jones egypt style zone Uldum and an Underwater zone Vashj'ir, the elemental plane Deepholme, Mount Hyjal & The Twilight Highlands. This expansion also saw two new races, Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde) who i cannot say i personally like (Although i'm not a fan of any new race) and my opinion is that perhaps they'd both be better served as neutral races. Whilst i absolutely loved the new content that came with Catalysm it has ruined my memorys of Azeroth and i can only look back at my early days of playing and wish for that back.
I'm not going to go onto the latest expansion as quite frankly i think this review has run its course, but when it is released i'll be more than sure to give my opinion. All in all i can safely say World of Warcraft is without a doubt the greatest MMO ever created and its going to take a hell of a lot for it to be knocked from the top spot in online gaming no matter how hard developers are trying. Saying that though i do beleive its glory days have passed and that Blizzard are going to have to pull something big out of the bag in the next five years to stop them steadily losing even more subscribers than they already have.
Overall Grade: A+