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Ask Massively: So? How is it?

Kevin Stallard

Have you ever had one of those creative moments where you have absolutely no idea how to proceed? Whether you call it "writer's block", "stage fright", or even "performance anxiety", such a moment can be utterly paralyzing. At Ask Massively, for this week anyway, we don't have that problem. The following email is loosely paraphrased from an amalgamation of sources. For a small bribe, I will refrain from using words like "amalgamation" in the future.

Dear Massively,

I think you need to spend more time talking about World of Warcraft. In fact, I'm going to toss you a question that I'm fairly confident that nobody else has thought about asking this week.

What do you think of Wrath of the Lich King, so far?

-- Any one of about a gazillion emails in the Inbox

Normally, one of my "signature moves" in writing this column is to link each word in a sentence to a different story on the topic-du-jour. If I did that this time, every word in this article would be a separate link, and the article would be longer than the Beijing White Pages.

Like it or not, and many of you don't, Wrath of the Lich King is, by far, the biggest event in the MMO industry this year. Hype aside, how did Blizzard do?

The launch itself wasn't quite perfect. There was a fair amount of downtime leading up to the actual release of the expansion, but the boxes sure have been flying off the shelves. Of course, to many of us, that means the return of an old "fan favorite", Queus Serverus Maximus, or in the more vernacular form, server queues. All things considered, this has surprised absolutely nobody. But what about the game itself?

As I alluded to in my last column, I am not one of those players who tries to get to the end game of an expansion in a week. I have barely logged in to my (former) main character, and have spent the bulk of my time in old zones with my brand new Death Knight. The Death Knight "starting experience" is probably the finest chain of quests that I have played in any MMO. It has lore, lots of fighting, exploration, and even a taste of some of the new innovations that appear in this expansion. (If you want spoilers, go elsewhere...)

Once I got into Outland, and it didn't take very long at all, I was able to tear through content yet I was still challenged enough to learn the intricacies of the Death Knight class. I made level 68 at a relatively slow pace (5 real-world days, call it 30 hours of playtime), took the time to level my mining up to 320 (buying ore in the AH in advance, then smelting my little black guts out), then headed to Northrend to see what the new content was like.

So far, I haven't seen much apart from Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord, but I like what I see so far. Howling Fjord, in particular made me think that it was Blizzard's response to Age of Conan. The zone had a heavy "Norse" vibe to it along with larger-than-life monsters that may as well have had "Made in Cimmeria" tattooed on their backs. I'm not saying that this was Blizzard's thought process when they designed this zone, but that's what it made me think of when I first played it.

Let's face it. If you play World of Warcraft, you're going to get this expansion. If you no longer play, you might want to peek in and take a look at all of the changes. If you have never played and are thinking about starting, it's going to be a while before you get to this content. As a current and active player, I am absolutely thrilled with the expansion so far. I would imagine that the hardcore types are a bit disappointed that this expansion doesn't seem "harder" than Burning Crusade did, but the average gamer is going to have a blast.

Ask Massively Ask Massively gives you raw opinions about the MMO business. We tell it like it is, and we don't hold back.
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