I should maybe post something more broad on my general observations about WoW or what it’s done to my life, but right now I don’t feel like writing a well-structured and reflective post, so I’ll just mention something cool from yesterday to fill the space until I get off my arse and write a proper entry.
Of course the main strength of MMOG’s is that you can create your own stories in association with your fellow players and tell each other great tales of how you teamed up to take down a level 60 on the opposing side or stuff like that. But what impressed me yesterday is actually just a regular quest in the game that any Horde player around my level could experience, and that a lot of people have doubtlessly experienced before me. I was tasked with a messenger run through Ashenvale. The reason this left any impression at all is that I was level 21 at the time, and I was sent straight through a huge area full of night elves. I had to go through a night elf town to get to my first objective, and this town was full of high-level sentries and other NPC’s.
Normally in RPG’s, the enemies you encounter are carefully balanced to give somebody of your current level an appropriate challenge compared to which stage of the game you are in (meaning the game will get more challenging as you progress, even as your character’s abilities increase). Of course in an MMOG, you can go anywhere you like from the beginning of the game, and there is nothing to stop you from wandering straight into enemy territory at level 1 and get massacred by a group of level 40 NPC’s. But a thing World of Warcraft does well is provide a constant stream of quests to guide you around the world in the correct order so you’re always going somewhere appropriate to your level. This is a good thing by all means, my main gripes with Morrowind was that it completely lacked any sense of direction. But these “conventions” made my adventure into Ashenvale that much more surprising and exciting. The game was deliberately sending me through a large area where my only chance of survival would be extreme discretion. The only reason I ever made it past the two elven towns my route went through, and the only reason that level ?? “Wandering Protector” didn’t spot me and crush me into a fine pulp, was because being a rogue enabled me to sneak around the night elf settlements.
Knowing that I was making my way through an area where I had no chance of survival if I was discovered created a powerful suspense that only the best stealth games (Splinter Cell, Thief, etc.) can usually create, and it made my success all the more thrilling when I finally found the Warsong runner in an outpost on the Western coast of the continent and delivered his orders to him. I did, however, opt to teleport myself back to the Barrens with my hearthstone from the outpost rather than brave the dangers of Ashenvale to get back again.