MMO Meltdown: World of Warcraft
I was a hero. I patrolled the streets of Paragon City like a reformed bully, zealously beating on bewildered bad guys. I went through trials, I fought off invasions, and I even battled a giant that resembled a munchkin (consider that for a moment). OK, I mostly just hung around Atlas Park and shot the breeze with other idle ingrates, but at least I can say I was there.
Now? A phantom limb. I get the itch to log-in but the game that I spent years playing no longer exists. City of Heroes was the Superman of MMOs. Do a Google search for City of Heroes and read some of the articles to see how much it meant to us. You can read my eulogy to the game here. Tears were shed on the steps of city hall as the lights went black for the last time.
But, one of the by-products of spending so many hours as a superhero is the ability to rise again. Missing worlds media is attempting to do just that with the Phoenix Project. Check out their website for the City of Heroes inspired MMO that they're working on.
Why am I telling you all this? It's simple. While I wait for something resembling the game that I love I am going to play as many MMO games as I can. I'm going to mosey through the mediocrity so that I can have a greater appreciation when I can once again don a cape (and a six-pack). Do not mistake this blog series as a bunch of reviews. I just want my game back! Until then I will begrudgingly play yours. Let's begin.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
WoW is often ranked as the top MMORPG out there at the moment so I've decided to start my anti-quest there.
First things first, the character creator leaves a lot to be desired. The CoH character creator was the only earthly example of numerical infinity known to man (tip: never quote my facts). Anyway, in WoW you get to choose Humans or a few other character origins including -what I assume to be the latest- panda bears. No wonder the game is so popular, pandas are frickin' adorable. Seriously though, how can you have a bad-ass, quest-to-save-the-universe game with elves, wizards, and stuff, and throw pandas in there? Admittedly, the pandas do seem to be working their chubby butts off to learn some kung-fu. Wait, Kung-Fu Pandas?
Oh ya, there are a few different classes too, hunter, mage, warrior, etc. The whole thing is derivative, and not in a Tarantino film way. "We're elves and humans and we unite the take on the evil that is threatening our combined existence. And that evil is called, The Horde!" I have to admit some of the CoH names were cheesy (The Outcasts) but the Horde?
I'd be the worst person to write actual reviews of these games (not a review, remember). I'm more interested in the scenery -and how well the developers tackled in-game swimming- than actually acquiring powers and fighting bad guys. Fortunately for me, in WoW you can just choose not to engage most bad guys -if you can call owls and moths bad guys- and just run around. I ran clear to the Sea of Tranquillity (that might not be the actual name) and dove in, and guess what. It was glorious. You can actually swim above or under water! There are schools of fish swimming past the seaweed. This (in my uninformed 2.5 hours of gameplay) is by far the best feature of this game. My rating instantly went from -3 stars to 0.5 stars!
After a lengthy swim to a deserted island I did a few other fun things. I got a badge for falling off a cliff and living. I got jumped by some mean little fat dudes and talked to one friendly little fat dude. I died and went to the netherworld, and walked on water, and died again in the netherworld from nether-fatigue. I was a spirit, I performed miracles, I dehydrated. Aside from that protuberance of allayed pretence (how can I die when I'm a magical dead guy!?!) the spirit world was fairly uneventful. I ran all over the place only to later realize -after my in-death death- that the big angel that I spawned by brought me back to the living. Who knew?
It's not knowing what to do as a noob in those situations that reminds me how good we had it in CoH. The community there was unparalleled and that's an understatement. Even as a human in WoW people wouldn't stop and talk to me, even as a human... I asked people where the nearest teleporter was and they literally just walked right through me (another bothersome detail, walkthoughs). They wouldn't even PL me.
I tried the game as a Draenei hunter as well. The Draenei are badass-looking blue guys with Conan muscles and horsefeet. But the zone they start in is utterly redundant. I spent days (not really) walking through head-high ferns and past glowing wolves with no end in sight. Where in the Pandora was I? Pandora like Avatar (because of the warped nature of the nature), not Pandaria like... oh nevermind. I found my way out through this funky cave only to find more forest and mountains on the other side. Was there no civilization in this world? Was I expected to accept the concept of slave labor (I saw a chain-gang of Draenei mining rocks) and yet forego the thought of a cool place to hangout? But then, why would those things be synonymous? At this point I'm asking myself questions.
I think that's a horrible place to stop in a journalistic sense, but you would be hard-pressed to accuse this post of containing any journalism. I'm downloading the next game as I type this so expect more misadventures momentarily. Until then, I shall leave you with this: In WoW you will not find opportunity to perch atop roofs looking down on the streets you keep safe, nor will enjoy the finer things in life like mass transit and teleportation (as far as I know). No, in truth, you will be reduced to a common bush-monger. You must be brave, for that is a lonely road indeed.
CoH forever, death to the horde, and beware the raging chasm.