Monday, March 09, 2009

Ten Days In Sunny Azeroth, Pt. 1: You No Take Candle!

Daylight Savings time screwed me over for this update.

Like I said, I got a 10 day trial to World of Warcraft and figured what the hell, I’ll try it out. See how it compares to City of Heroes. So after registering and installing I was ready to play. The enthusiasm declined after having to download patches for a day straight. Eventually though, it finished, and I was ready to go.

After a lavish cutscene of things fighting each other to set the mood, I got to the login. The login screen featured an undead dragon of some sort (a dracolich?) flying around and occasionally roaring at me. So the mood was set pretty well. Lots of monsters, atmosphere, Action and Adventure were strongly implied.

To the character creation screen! Ok. Not as detailed as CoH (and that’s City of Heroes, not Company of Heroes. CoH was around before that CoH came out). You can only mess around with facial features, and even then, you have a limited palette to choose from. There’s no slider for physique or height. You don’t choose your clothing either. I understand why its like that because of the loot system, but CoH has a real edge in character creation.

So I roll up a human paladin, because in these types of games, I just gravitate towards goody-two-shoes justice seeking guys who wade into combat with a mad-on for smiting evil in the face (later I rolled up a female gnome fighter because it was funny). Picking the name Brightmace, my mustachioed avenger entered the world.

After a pretty nifty cutscene/narration that explains the human situation in Azeroth (they’re against the ropes after Warcraft III and trying to rebuild), Brightmace was greeted by Northshire Abbey and a bunch of wolves and kobolds swarming around. Ok, cool. Time for smiting. Go to a contact. Hey, they actually talk when you click them. Do they-? Yes, they do get annoyed when you keep clicking on them. Ginchy. Anyway, I’m told to kill something like 8 kobolds. Go to another contact who tells me to bring back some wolf meat. I kill some wolves (no doubt EVIL wolves, since I’m a paladin and all) and loot the corpses. Some of them had fangs and claws and…pants? Okay… I get to the kobolds hanging around by a mine. Smash a couple of them with my bigass mallet. As I attack the next one, a text balloon appears over him screaming “You no take candle!” This being level one, the poor bastard doesn’t stand a chance since its level one. Curious, I loot his body (in the name of JUSTICE!) and find a small candle. Curious, I take the candle and examine it. Can’t do anything with it. Maybe I can sell it. It occurs to me that essentially murdering a hapless kobold who just wanted to hold onto his beloved candle and then taking it isn’t exactly…heroic behavior.

I gain a level or two, get some low quality armor to wear, get sent after some bandits, who tear me a new one when they gang up on me. I was still trying to figure out the auras and seals and blessings system in the game. I died a couple times. There’s no debt system like in CoH that you have to pay off before you can get full XP again. Instead you pop up in a graveyard as a ghost. Everything’s greyscale and there’s a weird spirit healer/angel of death thing floating in front of you giving the option to run back to your corpse or be rezzed (resurrected) on the spot with a durability penalty to your equipment. I realize that I have to repair my equipment in this game. Minor inconvenience, but makes sense in the loot system.

Many of the missions are “kill x number of enemies and bring back x number of this specific loot.” After some more levels, I gain some new powers. I’ve already got an aura, a heal and a seal (which is a kind of temporary-well, 30 minute temporary, buff). I pick up a seal of judgment, which debuffs an enemy for something like 20 seconds and gives me a chance to heal back damage as I smash my chosen enemy. Cool beans. The only WTF moment was when I realized I had to pay copper to learn my new abilities. Again, it kind of makes sense, but CoH spoiled me with the trainers who’s only requirements are reaching the appropriate level.

Then its time to leave Northshire. Unlike CoH, WoW doesn’t have “zones” that have to load before you can wander around. You just start walking and eventually you get there. There’s pros and cons to each system. Loading zones in CoH simulates traveling long distances without having to actually experience said long distances, but can also disrupt the illusion of the world you’re in. in WoW, you can wander around exploring (and trying to run like hell away from things that outlevel you). And you will walk, since you can’t get mounts (like horses) until you reach a certain level. So I wander around Elwyn Forest, do some more quests, repair my equipment, level some more, repeat. I will admit, getting some slightly better loot as quest rewards is kind of nice. It reminds you what kind of goals you’re working for.

One quest had me exploring another mine and butchering some more kobold candle-fetishists. After examining the loot of one of them, I see a shovel. Examining it closer, I see that its got weapon stats and is better than my mallet and qualifies as a mace, which plastered a big grin on my face. Brightmace and his Blessed Kobold Shovel of Smiting (and Shoveling) set out on his holy mission to kill and loot monsters with a sense of renewed purpose. Clearly, the Light had sent him this blessed weapon to validate his crusade for justice. Shovels for the Shovel God!

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