In August 2005, I was pressured to play World of Warcraft by a group of online friends from a site called Gaming World. At the time, I was not particularly interested in trying the game out, believing that it probably wasn’t that spectacular of an MMORPG.
I was wrong.
My initial experience as a Human in Elwynn Forest wasn’t too great. I actually ended up deleting that character and then making a Night Elf. Teldrassil felt much more interesting to me, and I stuck with the character.
The fact that I continue to play to this day, even though I stopped playing several times since August 2005, says a lot. It’s been more than five years. No other game has commanded so much time from me, and I’m not even a WoW addict!
So, I’m going to look at WHY I still play this game to this day, and HOW I can still be entertained by vanilla content which, arguably, should have become boring three or four years ago.
Reason #1: The World
Barren wastelands, charred valleys, dense forests, harrowing deserts, lush jungles, and arctic mountains are just some of the zones in this hugely detailed and expansive world. This isn’t even factoring in the zones found in the two currently available expansions, nor the third which should hit store shelves in November or December of this year.
Before I even talk about the zones, I want to share a few pictures of the zones in WoW for those who can’t grasp how diverse the world of Azeroth truly is.
Here are zones from the original vanilla World of Warcraft.
Perhaps a little dated, but for a five year old MMORPG, WoW still looks decent. Here are a few zones from the 2006 The Burning Crusade expansion.
Here are a few zones from the current 2008 expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, which is nearing the end of it’s life cycle.
And here are a few zones found in the successor to Wrath of the Lich King, the yet-to-be-released 2010 expansion, Cataclysm!
There is so much diversity in World of Warcraft. As of Cataclysm, the game will feature a total of 74 zones. That is a lot of exploring for new players! On top of so many zones, there are several major cities and dozens of dungeons to check out as well. To check out a zone quilt that I made, just to get an idea of how expansive WoW is, click here.
World of Warcraft succeeds because practically all of it’s zones are diverse, interesting, and original. They all have their own unique feel, from the depressing wastes of Desolace to the lush wilderness of the Arathi Highlands. All low level zones (up to level 20) are faction controlled. Beyond level 20, zones are contested and, in some cases, feature open war between the Alliance and Horde factions.
What I really enjoy about the diverse zones of this game is that everybody will find one zone that they click with and really enjoy. For me, it is the desolate and saddening fields of Westfall. Despite the zone being so gloomy due to the Defias invasion, I absolutely love the scenery and the music. I can literally just sit in Westfall and chat with people forever, and fishing, a task that is usually quite boring, never gets old to me when I am in Westfall.
Overall, the world is fantastic and is, without contest, the most diverse game world I have ever explored in a video game.
The only weakness that WoW possesses is that a few of it’s starter zones are not up to modern standards, since they were first made available in 2004. Elwynn Forest, which is where human characters start, is dreadfully boring and not very immersive. I’ve witnessed several people give up on WoW or not give it a chance, and these people mostly all started in Elwynn Forest as a human. Some decided to give other races a try and stuck with the game, ending up as very loyal players. My suggestion to new players is avoid Elwynn Forest. Start as a Tauren or perhaps a Night Elf. They have more interesting starter zones by far. If a new player has Burning Crusade, then roll a Blood Elf without question!
Of course, when Cataclysm hits near the end of this year, all of the vanilla starter zones will be brought up to modern standards. I have only heard of the revamped quests in Durotar so far, but they sounded very good! Bored players will definitely find some enjoyment there as quests are brought up to the standard we are used to experiencing in Northrend.
Really, in a world as big as Azeroth, it’s crazy to let your WoW experience by ruined by a single unspectacular zone. The world has so much to see and do, and I wish that more people I personally know would experience this rich world. It is by far the best game world ever created by Blizzard.
Reason #2: The Music
Even though I usually play with the music off these days so that I can listen to my own music in iTunes, I cannot deny that the music in WoW is absolutely fantastic. Here are a few themes in the game that still stand out and are exciting to me, even today.
And here is the best of the bunch, as far as I am concerned. This is the Stormwind City theme in all it’s glory!
For an MMORPG, the music in World of Warcraft goes above and beyond to deliver an immersive experience. Some of the themes in this game are, to be honest, among my favourite video game tunes ever. Stormwind’s theme is one of them for sure. Hearing these great tunes as I write this post makes me want to turn my music back on next time I play, and I believe that I will do just that!
Reason #3: The Experience
For Warcraft fans like me, playing WoW for the first time was really magical as I visited so many locations that I only heard of in Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 3. Visiting Andorhal, Hearthglen, and Stratholme felt completely amazing, even if each city had been corrupted by the Scarlet Crusade and the Scourge. Visiting the Lordaeron throne room where Arthas killed King Terenas, his own father, was really awesome. Bits and pieces that we saw in the Warcraft 3 cinematic were present in the throne room, which was so cool.
It was really refreshing to be able to experience the world of Azeroth as a race besides the two central forces of Warcraft, Humans and Orcs. The Alliance, led by the Humans, is comprised of Dwarves, Gnomes, and Night Elves. Draenei joined the Alliance in the Burning Crusade expansion, and the werewolf-like Worgen will join in Cataclysm. The Horde is led by the Orcs, who are allied with the Tauren, Trolls, and Undead (Forsaken). Blood Elves joined their ranks in the Burning Crusade expansion, and a Goblin sect will join the Horde in Cataclysm.
Playing the game as these races and experiencing the culture of each is really amazing and I have to commend Blizzard on that. If you play as a Night Elf or Tauren, you will truly feel in tune with nature, and you will respect it tremendously. Play as a Forsaken, and the stagnant zones they inhabit, filled with undeath, will most certainly get to you.
It’s a sheer joy to follow the Alliance storyline. Viewed as Warcraft’s good guys, it’s cool to see them start to stray from their noble purposes in Wrath of the Lich King, as King Varian Wrynn begins to feel the urge to show the Horde the might of the Alliance.
Meanwhile, if you play Horde, you will be torn and unable to decide if you are playing bad guys or good guys. The Tauren and Trolls are certainly respectable races who are not clearly evil, while the Orcs continue their savage and ruthless war-like habits, and the Forsaken seem to have a vendetta against anything that has a beating heart.
The inclusion of the Burning Crusade races, and the two that we will get in Cataclysm, only make the experience better!
Reason #4: The Community
This is the biggest reason of all. Of course with millions of active subscribers there will be a few jerks, but the majority of WoW players are surprisingly nice! In all of the guilds I have joined since 2005, I’ve never been in one that I did not like becaue they were asses. Hasn’t happened.
On PvP realms, where tension between the two factions is incredibly tense, the people are unbelievably kind. Even if I got slaughtered many times by other players while questing, I still had nice people to talk to. That really mattered.
After quitting the game for half a year during 2006, I came back and never played on a PvP realm again, since I’m pretty weak on my own. I found the folks on my new PvE home realm of Hyjal to be amazing! They knew me as Rasche the Night Elf hunter, and they watched me grow from level 10 weakling to level 68 masterful hunter. I really came into my own, learning how to be a truly good hunter. It helped having them support me and offer me tips, and I won’t forget how much they helped me better myself as a hunter, which is now my class of choice.
I gave up Hyjal when I found an even friendlier home on a realm known as Moon Guard. It happens to be an RP realm, which of course stands for roleplay. This means that most people act as their characters, bringing a whole new dimension to the game. I still play on Moon Guard to this day, finding it impossible to play elsewhere.
I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, and being a huge supporter of roleplay. I would play games outside with my friends that involved roleplay, but back then we never called it that, of course. When we were kids, we were “pretending to be other people” and such. This even spread into offline video games that had local multiplayer support. I seriously roleplayed with friends in RACING GAMES! That tells you how much we enjoyed the aspect of RP, and it is why I’ve become so comfortable on the Moon Guard realm. The roleplayers are, basically, like me. They are really kind people, really helpful. If you are not questing or instancing with them, then you are probably roleplaying with them. For creative story tellers and old D&D players, World of Warcraft offers an amazing foundation for the sort of roleplay they desire. From a social aspect, this game is unmatched in every single way.
World of Warcraft has brought people together. I may not be one of them, but I’ve read success stories of people meeting on the game and even getting married. Of course there are some bad people who play the game, but a lot of good has come out of World of Warcraft too. From uniting lovers to making the slow hours of the night pass by chilling with online folks in Silvermoon or Stormwind, World of Warcraft has had a positive impact on the lives of many.
I could go on and on about the reason why I am still an active WoW player. With everything above combined, WoW has become an MMORPG that cannot be replaced easily to me. I have played almost every other major MMO on the market (APB, Champions Online, D&D Online, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.) and none of them can even compare. While some may almost have the same awesome gameplay, they never have a community that is as active or friendly. The opposite can also happen, an MMORPG may have god-awful gameplay that is terrible to play, but could have a good community. World of Warcraft, thankfully, has both good gameplay and a fantastic community. I really do urge everyone to give WoW a try. Honestly, it’s a very cheap and affordable MMORPG. The fact that people from all walks of life, and of all ages, can enjoy WoW says so much.
This is an MMORPG for everyone. Play it, and if something disappoints you in the game.. Well, try something else in WoW! Overall, this is the ultimate MMORPG. Over ten million players cannot be wrong.
Five years on and I am still playing, and do you know what? As long as content continues, I’ll play for another five. Kudos Blizzard, you’ve created the best MMORPG that we may very likely ever see.
Final note, if anyone would like to touch base with me in WoW, here are the characters I’m playing. Currently trying to get an 80 again!
Image is dated September 29, 2010 so levels may differ depending on the date that this article is being read. Click on the image to access the Armory page of my main (the Blood Elf hunter pictured, Sylessia).