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World of Warcraft Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Getting Around
Transportation has not been neglected in Azeroth. There are ships, zeppelins, recall stones, teleport spells, flying creatures, mounts, and even an underground train. You need to visit points on the flight paths before you can use them, but the running you are required to do is never excessive. Flying between cities on a continent actually takes you on a fully rendered trip through the world, rather than simply bringing up a loading screen, which is a nice touch even though these become good opportunities for a bathroom break after seeing them enough times.

Crafting and Trading
As well as combat skills, characters in WoW can have a number of trade skills, which include things like cooking, mining, alchemy, and blacksmithing. Crafting with these skills is nothing particularly new; you bring up a crafting window and click a few buttons.

Your trade skills are limited by the level of your character, so progressing through the game solely as crafter is not really viable, even if you're willing to purchase all the necessary materials at the auction.

Several major cities have Auction Houses, which are integrated with the game's email system.

World of Warcraft Screenshot
You must be at the Auction House to put items up for bid and place bids, but the rest is handled very cleverly by Azeroth mail. Your goods or money can be retrieved at any of the mailboxes scattered thoughout the world.

PvP?
Given that the Alliance vs. Horde conflict is central to WoW, the player vs. player combat is somewhat disappointing. On regular servers PvP is entirely optional, and your PvP flag is triggered only by attacking an enemy NPC or by using a /pvp command. Once your PvP flag is up, you can be attacked by any member of the opposing faction. Your PvP flag will remain up until you go about 5 minutes without engaging the enemy.

On PvP servers, the world is divided into friendly, contested, and enemy areas. In friendly zones, your PvP flag does not come up unless you attack the enemy faction. This means that they can't attack you unless you attack them first. In enemy territory, you will be flagged for PvP, but again, they will have to attack you before you can attack them. In contested areas, all players are flagged for PvP, so both factions must be on their guard. PvP Battlegrounds, when implemented, will be available on both types of servers.

Given that there are no level restrictions on who may attack whom, the PvP server system may seem an adequate compromise at first glance, but unfortunately, it has some serious flaws. Foremost among these is that there is really nothing to fight over. It would be much better if, for example, you could change the status of certain zones from contested to friendly, or from enemy to contested, by achieving a set of objectives. As it stands, territorial control in WoW is essentially static, and corpses can't be looted. Raids occur regularly, but regardless of the outcome, nothing vaguely significant is gained or lost.

Another problem is that death is handled the same way on both server types. When someone gets killed they simply respawn as a ghost at the nearest graveyard, at which point they can try to recover their corpse, or be revived on the spot. The only difference between these options is that the latter results in a greater equipment damage penalty.

The consequence of this in PvP situations is that casualities of the battle are often back in the fight mere seconds after dying, once again attacking characters they just killed.

World of Warcraft Screenshot
Getting revived in the graveyard can mean that you enter the world right next to a member of the opposing faction. Under these circumstances PvP is not just pointless, it's downright absurd, and it makes playing on PvP server rather unappealing.

Battlegrounds, which are to be instanced, may help, but the persistent portion of the world would still benefit tremendously from a territorial control system, an honor system, or at least some way to claim a graveyard. Frankly, the PvP in the game right now feels like a complete afterthought.

The Bottom Line
Although WoW is fairly typical for a MMORPG, there are several things about it that make it more compelling than most games of this kind. Azeroth is dripping with character, detail, and polish which truly instills a desire to explore it in the player. The quest system and instanced dungeons tie it all together beautifully, providing players with everything from an introduction to the game to high-level raid content. Finally, the reduction of downtime increases the fun factor considerably. Even if you don't find yourself hooked on WoW for years, there are few RPG fans who won't get many months of enjoyment out of this game.

World of Warcraft Screenshots

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