This game is, quite simply, the best Fantasy MMORPG I have ever encountered. Having played during the entire 11 day Stress Test, I can honestly say it will probably be around even longer than EverQuest. This work of art has all the magic of EQ, without the many frustrations that finally caused me to give up on EQ (such as extreme grind, a very punitive death penalty, and being forced to group at high levels).
The graphics in WoW are awesome. Some people complain about the “cartoonish” colors, etc. I find these graphics to be very pleasing to the eye, and extremely well detailed and arranged. Guess this just shows that it isn’t possible to please everyone, particularly those who go out of their way to find a flaw in other people’s creations. To me, it is just right.
I won’t elaborate on the basics of the game, such as the 8 races and 9 classes. Others have already covered them. Rather, I will focus on some other areas that are important to older players (I will soon be 60 years old, and no longer have the lightning-fast hand to eye coordination and sharp vision I once enjoyed).
There appeared to be no need for extremely quick reflexes in this game, but instead a player needs to use strategy and planning to avoid getting in over one’s head. The wonderful hotkey bar across the entire bottom of the screen was very helpful and well thought out. Kudos to Blizzard for making such a great interface. The screen is not all cluttered up like it is in most games.
The game runs on a 24-hour clock, so it is dark nearly half the time. Blizzard wisely chose to not make the game black as night in most locations. It is possible to play effectively in caves and other usually extremely dark areas, without benefit of an external light. I thought this was a very wise decision and really enjoyed playing in those locations for the first time ever in an MMORPG. Some players complain that it is too bright. I would say to them: Turn down your Gamma control in the game if you like. Many of us do not have your young night-vision, and we are paying customers too. I think that Blizzard got this part just right.
The quest system in this game is better than I have ever seen. I actually liked doing quests, something I haven’t previously enjoyed. Also, quests give lots of experience, and since they can usually be done on a casual basis, they don’t require the same level of one-track focus that they do in other games I have played.
During this “way too short” Stress Test, I decided to try a variety of different characters and locations, so played the following characters: Night Elf Druid, lvl 12; Tauren Hunter, lvl 13; Human Mage, lvl 8; Human Warlock, lvl 6; Gnome Warlock, lvl 6; Troll Shaman, lvl 6. Unfortunately, I have a full-time job and could only devote about 40 hours a week to the game. The initial leveling rate is quite quick, with it slowing down a lot at about level 12. Just about right, IMO.
The game is bug-free, for the most part. It is way more bug-free than SWG is even today. I would be willing to pay a subscription now, if it would “get me my game back!”. There are only two problems I see with this game:
1. Even though the Stress Test ended at 6pm Sunday evening, three days later I am still going through withdrawal and still have no desire to play on my two City of Heroes and three SWG accounts.
2. World of Warcraft is still not out, so my pre-ordered copy hasn’t arrived, nor do I know when that will happen. The sooner, the better, IMO. There is no doubt in my mind that this game will be way more popular that EQ2, which I also plan to try. Hopefully WoW will arrive first.