World of Warcraft tested - Blizzard's first online role-playing game put to the test

Author: Michael Graf
Date: 2005-03-01 10:20:00
Stay away from Blizzard's online role-playing game! Otherwise you can forget your private life: A harmonious world, ease of use and a drive to collect make Azeroth a trendy destination for adventurers.

Take a sack. Stuff all the watches you own. Wristwatches, pocket watches, kitchen clocks. All. Then throw the sack out of the window. Good. Now you can play World of WarCraft in peace. And are not constantly reminded of what time it is again. You won't get a guilty conscience if you chase ogres through ruined cities until five in the morning. Or if you miss the bus because you still have to chop three gorillas. World of WarCraft is addictive.

Admittedly, this may also apply to other online role-playing games. But Blizzard's hit is rounder, faster, better. We plunged into the long-term test with the US retail version. Fat in war What is an ogre? A fat sack with a club. But you don't have to know that.

You can find your way around World of WarCraft even if you don't know the strategy series. Two alliances are at war with each other: Alliance (humans, dwarves, night elves, gnomes) and Horde (orcs, tauren, undead, trolls). To start, choose a race and one of nine classes: warrior, paladin, shaman, priest, druid, villain, hunter, sorcerer or magician. You can customize the look of your character by choosing from a few predefined faces and hairstyles - so that only a few variants are possible for each breed. And at some point you meet a character who looks exactly like yours.

Nevertheless, you identify yourself with your hero. Because you determine how it behaves. Whether he travels the country as a nice warrior or grumpy magician. As a soloist or in a group. Your decision. Her character. Not every nation offers every class. For example, nature-loving orcs do not train priests. The skills of the characters are well matched. Warriors work well as close combat ("tanks" in online slang). Paladins also distribute properly and also use healing spells and auras that strengthen allies. Powerful shamans plant totems in the ground - statues that, for example, increase the defense value of close friends. Priests heal and use "buffs": enchants that, among other things, give more life points. Druids turn into beasts, such as big cats. Rogues invisibly stalk enemies. Hunters tame an animal and send it to enemies while shooting the bow themselves. Sorcerers summon a demon. Mages work enemies with fire, ice, or arcane magic.

Slaughter among friends

No matter which class you choose: you can go on all adventures alone, even at higher levels. Because even classic supporters fight properly solo. Priests, for example, do a lot of damage right from the start with offensive spells and their clubs. In addition, life and mana points regenerate very quickly - there is almost no idle. Therefore, World of WarCraft plays faster, more action-packed than the competition (Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest 2 & Co.).

You only need to join a group if you want to slay strong monsters or if you want to solve quests that are too difficult for your level. Since this brings a lot of experience points, group members level up faster than soloists. Great idea: If you log out of a city and don't play for a long time, your character starts »rested« and earns more experience in the short term. This is how you catch up with friends if they continued to play hard. The gaming experience depends on the type of server you choose. You often fight human players on PvP servers. Hopefully not against paladins or shamans, who deal vigorously in close combat and can also heal themselves: too powerful for fair fights between players. On PvE servers it's against monsters. And role-playing servers are very special. Discuss actions via the uncomfortable chat function. Instead of using the Dark Age of Camelot tab, select the chat channel using cryptic commands: "/ 1 Someone for the› Goldzahn ‹quest?« Sends your request via the general channel, for example.

Monster Tourism

The WarCraft world is full of monsters. You have to do it to enjoy the locations undisturbed. For example the jungle of Stranglethorn Vale, where lianas dangle from giant trees. Or the snow-covered ruins of Alterac Fortress. Or the cathedral of the human capital Stormwind, whose bell towers soar high into the sky. Or, or, or. There is a lot to discover in World of WarCraft , each area has its own flair with suitable music - which, however, does not adapt dynamically to the situation, for example if you are attacked. WarCraft fans find massive allusions to the strategy games. Guess who burned Alterac? That was you in WarCraft 2 !

Exploring the world is not only fun, it is also worthwhile. Areas are never empty, treasure chests and clients are waiting everywhere. Every now and then there is one of the ingenious instance dungeons: a level in which your group is undisturbed by other players. Because a copy of the area will be created for you - you do not have to share monsters and experience with anyone. Killed beasts bring useful loot, such as magical equipment. The Diablo 2 effect takes effect: you don't rest until your character has captured the thickest armor, the sharpest sword.

Click the ogre flat!

The monsters fit in with the area: through the misty forests of the undead homeland Lordaeron, for example, pitch-black poison spiders crawl; This variety is also important in terms of play: you need the right tactics for every enemy. Quillboar hunters, for example, look like upright pigs and hunt a wolf on you to attack yourself with a crossbow. Therefore, first eliminate Master Isegrim, then his pork buddy.

The cap system is an online standard: by clicking on an icon bar or using a hotkey, you trigger skills - such as spells or blows. Since each talent has an individual icon, orientation is easy. You can also see at a glance whether a monster is within range of your ranged weapons. However, cool hero combos like in Everquest 2 are missing. Only the villain charges finishing moves with attacks that do a lot of damage. When you die, you arise as a ghost in a graveyard. Resuscitation on the spot punishes World of WarCraft with a 10-minute reduction in all attributes, and your equipment is also damaged - the repair costs money. If you run back to the corpse for a long time, you remain unpunished. Exemplary, because even Everquest 2 punishes death with a frustrating deduction of experience.

Career start at a gallop

At the beginning, an intro in game graphics introduces the plot. For example, you'll learn that the orcs are fighting demons. At the starting point you will receive the first quest. When you have completed the job, you will get another one. And another one. This way, World of WarCraft guides you through the story, from city to city. Beginners learn game mechanics and operation at the same time: the good help function explains all elements. Up to level 10, quests are so easy that even beginners can progress quickly.

Professionals are annoyed about it, but later find enough challenges - such as kite hunting in instance caves. Many clients are waiting in each settlement. Their side quests also tell little stories. In the test, a gnome begs us to recover a robot's electron brain. No problem. The robo is in the gnome city of Gnomeregan. If it's nothing else. Gnomeregan is full of monsters. Damn. And the tin can is not a vacuum cleaner, but a killer machine. Great. In Gnomereagen we and two fellow combatants form a group. Together we slay beasts, find the tin bucket, take it out. Now with the brain. We fight our way out again. The client thanks us profusely. We feel that we have actually helped. We are a hero who does not solve drawing board quests, but experiences real adventures. And that's what it's all about.

Limitless?

Longer quest journeys can be bridged by griffin or zeppelin flight, magician teleport, subway (!), Boat trip or on foot. You only learn to ride at level 40 and progress faster. Actually no problem, quests are usually associated with short walking distances. In places it is annoying. For example, if you have to run halfway through the region just to hunt skeletons at the other end. And also have to ask other players about the destination because directions are often inaccurate. World of WarCraft compensates for this by the fact that you can usually do several jobs in one place - such as killing pirates, stealing snuff and looking for a magic eye.

Downer: All quests are based on the same pattern. Either kill monsters, collect items, escort clients, or run errands. Despite the small stories, the system itself offers little variety, especially since Blizzard has so far not installed any sieges à la Dark Age of Camelot : the players have no influence on the world, conquer no areas, and also build no houses. The WarCraft adventure runs within narrow limits. The maximum level is currently 60. Is the game over then? No.

He lev'le up!

Up to level 60 you have spent several weeks of playing time in your character. With coaches you learn new skills for money. For example, priests are gradually getting more effective healing spells. Each time you level up, you invest a point in a talent tree à la Diablo 2. Magicians specialize in fire, ice or arcane magic. The talents are well balanced, there are no useless skills.

And again the addictive effect comes into play: you always want to learn a skill, and still allocate a talent point. You also take up two of nine primary occupations. Use skins to remove the fur from animals. When you learn skinning, you use it to sew armor. Or should you retrain as a miner and mine iron ore? You can sell this to players who make swords by blacksmithing. With "Enchant" you give objects magical bonuses. Alchemists brew potions from leaves that herbalists have collected. Engineers make mechanical animals. Tailors make shirts. Through diligent work, you gradually improve your talent. All professions are interlinked and have to do with the procurement or processing of raw materials. This creates a functioning economic cycle from raw materials and end products. There are also secondary professions: first aid, cooking, fishing and poisoning (for villains). You can all learn them.

You can sell home-made equipment at retailers. How uncool. You'd better offer the stuff in an auction house. Here you can buy equipment. Feverish until the last second if your bid for the magic helmet comes through. You will receive auctioned items by post: In each village there is a mailbox, through which you can send goods to other players. Blizzard also has good ideas for computer-controlled retailers: if you want to buy an item, a comparison window opens. So you can see immediately whether the offer is better than your equipment.

Searches from when?

The merchant's cool Megatot sword is better than her popular dagger. You buy it. And want to go up one level. Then stop. Well, one more quest. Then it's really over. Or maybe wait for the auction to end? Go to the trainer to finally be able to summon firestorms (which of course you have to try immediately)? Explore the spider forest? You are always motivated to continue playing. Be it to the next level, the next quest or to search for equipment. However, most German players cannot move into the US adventure - an American credit card is required for this.

Those who have no relatives in the States have to wait. The German version will only appear on February 11th. So you look out of the window. Do you see the bag with the clocks? Bring him back in. Hang up the clocks again. Look at them. Every day. Rush to the nearest game store on the cut-off date to buy World of WarCraft . So that you don't miss a second of your adventure.

Conclusion of the editors

Michael Graf: »Chocolate, water, snacks? Everything there. The doorbell? Stumm. The cell phone? Buried in the garden. I'm ready. For World of WarCraft. Blizzard's addictive online epic beats Diablo 2 for myself: I always want to go up a level, explore another area, solve a quest. I dive into the harmonious world, collect equipment, help my buddies. And don't notice how time flies. Always the same. Good! I know the game principle remains the same: knock monsters. The quests proceed according to scheme F. Some of the routes are too long, directions too crude. That does not bother me. Because I decide how I play. Whether I'm out with friends or solo. Whether I sew leather armor or mine iron ore. Whether I'm exploring on my own or following quest trails. World of WarCraft doesn't put any obstacles in my way, all possibilities are playable. It's just a shame that Level 60 is currently over. So let's just start over again. With a different race, class, talents, and professions. The variety keeps the game alive. World of WarCraft makes boredom a foreign word. «

Petra Schmitz: »World of WarCraft will definitely change the online role-playing world. Everyone wants to try it out. Even people who have never dared to start such a program. And Blizzard does it right: getting started is easy, the addiction spiral is there quickly. But I'm worried that the role-playing aspect will be left behind because I fear that it will be handled more like Diablo 2 in Battlenet: fast in, just no dialogues, just leveling up. I will definitely play WoW in the final German version. But only on a roleplaying server. «

Markus Schwerdtel: »For February I predict a sharp rise in the divorce rate, only bachelors should be allowed to buy this game. Since the first US beta test, I have started countless character careers, assassinated myriads of monsters, and repeatedly solved several quests. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the German version like a little child. Because the combination of Diablo effect and online fascination captivates in the 100th hour of play just as in the first. Now Blizzard only has to deliver player houses and a reasonable PvP system (preferably with sieges à la Lineage 2) so that I can move out at home and move into Azeroth. Will my wife be there? ”