World of Warcraft
25th Jun 2004 | 10:35
The fanboy favourite gets a public airing
The one thing that the MMOGs of E3 almost all seemed to share was a desire to include content for players that has some meaning. No-one has taken that to heart quite as much as Blizzard though, as the large crowds surrounding the plethora of World Of Warcraft machines proved.
Every quest in the game has an associated storyline, often containing multiple parts, meaning your character progression is as much about exploring the unfolding narrative as it is levelling and numbers.
Of course, Warcraft is best known for the intricately balanced strategic gameplay - a factor that most comes over in the PvP areas of World Of Warcraft.
Battlefields provide teams with the chance to really go at it, fighting for control over gold mines, binding stones (for regeneration and empire growth) and habitable towns. Knowing how best to use your personal skills in the combat zone - as well as how to combine them with the skills of your team-mates - is the key to victory.
So far, the game has been in a closed, invitation-only beta test state across North America, and the response from the fans has been overwhelmingly positive. The Warcraft universe is one of such depth that being able to enter it first-hand is proving an almost irresistible attraction for most. However, it's also causing the development team the most problems with regards to keeping people happy.
Just days before E3, for instance, the team added a new feature to the beta that received mixed responses at best. Characters now get experience point bonuses for being fully rested, as well as penalties for adventuring while tired. While this doesn't sound too radical on the face of things, what rankled most players was that you could only be fully rested at specific inns - meaning that it actually punished the hardcore crowd who put in hours of questing and adventuring time. Luckily, the demonstrations at the show seem to indicate that player-built camps will now also allow 'full' resting bonuses, which should hopefully calm a few hackles.
It has to be said that most of WOW follows fairly standard MMOG lines. But where the hook lies is in that Blizzard magic - the ability to push an existing genre practically to breaking point in terms of craftsmanship and gameplay mechanics. Just adding a sense of purpose to everything is so far putting the game at the top of the list for many gamers, so what the team has in store for inclusion between now and the eventual release will most likely be enough to keep that banner raised high for even non-devotees.