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A New Player’s Impressions of World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Columns - By David Jagneaux on November 07, 2014

A New Player’s Impressions of World of Warcraft

I’ve been playing MMORPGs for most of my gaming life. As someone in their mid-twenties, I can’t claim to have been around for years and years losing myself in these virtual worlds, but I feel like I have a pretty good pulse on the industry as a whole. My MMO experiences first started with the original EverQuest, a game I would watch one of my brothers play when I would go to visit him. Eventually, he let me make my own character on his account, and then even paid for an account of my own so that I could enjoy the game for myself.

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After leaving EverQuest, I ventured around to various other games, some pay-to-play, some buy-to-play, and lots free-to-play, and have most recently spent a large chunk of my time in Guild Wars 2’s Tyria. Somehow, someway, I’ve just completely missed out on the World of Warcraft fever. Here I am, an MMO-lover that writes for one of the biggest MMO sites on the internet, and I only have a passing cursory knowledge of the most popular MMO in the world. Kind of weird, don’t you think? So, over the past couple of weeks I have logged in a handful of times and gotten a character up to around level 25. That’s admittedly low level, but it’s enough to construct a basic opinion. I figured it’s about time I explore Azeroth, as one of the few MMO players that can actually say that they’re new to World of Warcraft.

Entering Azeroth

That began to change not too long ago when a coworker was finally able to persuade me to sign up and utilize her Recruit-a-Friend offer. Now, understand that I’m not new to Blizzard either – I’ve played my fair share of Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, and Hearthstone – hell, even some Lost Vikings and Blackthorne – so it wasn’t exactly a brand new ecosystem for me. After activating my free trial account and getting the game downloaded and patched up, I was ready to go.

As per usual, I treated the game like any new experience and decided to first make a character that aligned with what I’m used to playing: a Paladin. I played a Paladin in EQ and virtually every other MMO, as well as a Guardian as my main in GW2, so it was a natural choice. Her main character is with the Horde, so I made my guy a Blood Elf so that we could level together.

Learning to Walk Again

Once I logged in, everything was immediately familiar to me; from the controls, to the hotkeys, to the tutorials on my screen, it felt incredibly welcoming and comfortable. Perhaps it’s because I’ve played so many of the games that came after it, and the main one that came before it, but WoW was far from a brave new frontier for my experienced fingers. That being said, if I had to pick a single word to describe my short time with the game so far, it would be “polish.”

I can easily say without a doubt that WoW is the most polished MMO I’ve ever played, for good reason. It’s coming up on its 10-year anniversary and Blizzard not only knows what they’re doing, they know their audience. As a new player that’s played lots of MMOs before, it was incredibly easy to get myself acquainted with the interface. From what my friend told me over her Ventrilo server, many of the tooltips and quality of life improvements are relatively new, which is great to hear that Blizzard is still focusing on the new player experience at this late stage in the game’s life.

After performing a /dance in a few funny places and bunny hopping around the map, I decided to actually play the game. Aided by the hefty XP boost granted from the Recruit-a-Friend system, we were able to tear through some of the opening zones in just a couple of hours. Before long, my level was in the double digits and I had bags full of loot and new gear. One of the great things I noticed about WoW from a new player perspective is that the game does a wonderful job of slowly introducing mechanics to you. It doesn’t try to explain every facet of the game from the get-go, nor should it have to, and instead opts for a system of gradual introductions.

Of course, I knew what a blinking question mark (?) or blinking exclamation mark (!) on my screen meant, but if I hadn’t, WoW covers that information. Everything from adding skills to your hotbar, tracking and completing quests, understanding how roles work, participating in PvP, going through dungeons, choosing a specialization, and anything else you could want to know is explained with detailed and informative instructions.

Hitting my Stride

In my 20-something levels I’ve spent with the game so far, essentially none of the quests really offered much in terms of unique design or gameplay. Standard fare was fully represented, from “Kill X of That”, to “Collect X of This”, and even a few “Go talk to him/her” for good measure. Granted, WoW essentially popularized these types of quests altogether and the game is far from modern, so this aspect was obviously expected, especially for low-level content.

Once we got rolling through, rounding up quests and completing them in big batches, the rhythm of MMO play quickly set in. As I gained in levels, I noticed the entire gameplay dynamics of playing as a Paladin began to change. I still don’t really do a whole lot of damage comparatively, but I have options now. My level 15 talent, “Long Arm of the Law”, gives me a great speed boost when my ranged skill “Judgment” hits an enemy, which results in a great way to open up a fight and rush into the fray.

My favorite parts of the game that I’ve seen thus far – the PvP Battlegrounds and the Dungeons – are both fun and accessible. Without a doubt, one of the best things about WoW, is how quick and easy everything is. Want to play some PvP? Queue up for a round of Battlegrounds. Want to run through a dungeon? There’s a queue for that too. The beauty of a game that’s been around for so long is that you don’t have to worry about features that were promised but never delivered on, or say to yourself “they will be adding this soon, I think” while playing. In most cases, Blizzard has thought of it and made it a part of the game already.

The most exciting moment I got to be a part of, was an extremely close round of PvP that our team ended up winning by a super close margin of just 1500 to 1496; way too close for comfort. The Battlegrounds work much like other similar Domination-style game modes, with each team capturing and holding points, as well as engaging in general combat. I also went through 2 different dungeons, both the Ragefire Chasm and the Shadowfang Keep. The groups that I became a part of moved quickly through the content, but it was extremely fast and fun to engage in. With the low-level of the content I played, none of the fights were particularly challenging or difficult to conduct, but it was a nice preview of what’s to come later on.

Until Next Time

At this early stage in the leveling process, I’ve obviously experienced only a very tiny portion of what the game has to offer, but consider this guy relatively impressed. I never joined a guild, I didn’t get to check out anything for level 25 and above, I didn’t get to do any raids obviously, I didn’t experiment with other classes – I just played the game, slowly, from the point of view of a new player. I’m not in a hurry to reach max level and I’m just enjoying the sights and sounds of Azeroth.

There are a lot of things from more modern games that I found myself missing, such as the ability to dodge, action-styled combat, shiny new graphics, and trends away from “Kill X” quests, but there are lots of things I was surprised to see not only held up so well, but actually excelled in WoW. I started this journey as someone willing to appease the prodding of a friend, but have found myself more and more interested in finding out what other secrets lay beneath the surface. I’m not going all in on the game or anything just yet, but I’m curious to see where this adventure takes me next. In the meantime, happy 10-year anniversary to the most popular MMO of all-time, and I hope you all enjoy Draenor!

David Jagneaux / David is a freelance writer and full-time nerd. He loves to play, write about, talk about and think about all things gaming. You can find his work all across the interwebs. It's dangerous to go alone, so follow him on Twitter!