Choose My Adventure: Can't stop the World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

It's been 10 years since Blizzard Entertainment launched World of Warcraft and ignited the great MMO gold rush of the aughts. In that time, World of Warcraft has grown into something more than a game; it's a cultural icon, an immensely valuable piece of intellectual property, and a brooding presence any new MMO has to consider before launch. WoW has gravity.

Just when World of Warcraft's numbers start to slide and the naysayers start planning their "WoW is dead" parties, Blizzard finds a way to make WoW resurgent. Warlords of Draenor, WoW's fifth expansion, launched late last month, bringing three million subscribers back into the game's warm embrace. For those keeping score: That's more subscribers than most MMOs ever see at their peaks.

Warlords of Draenor reworks some core World of Warcraft systems, changes up character models, implements a version of housing, and more. And with so many people returning to check it out, there's no better time for Choose My Adventure to join the fray.

My World of Warcraft

Normally on Choose My Adventure, we're playing a game with which I have little to no experience. I was a beginning pilot in Elite: Dangerous, a rookie soldier in Firefall, and a baby pugilist in Final Fantasy XIV. This won't be the case in World of Warcraft. WoW is the game that brought me into MMOs. I've been playing it since 2005 and have hit max level in every expansion, though with Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, hitting max level was about the only thing I did. Before that, I was a hardcore raider and an avid PvPer. I've faced off with Illidan, farmed out a Grand Marshal, wiped hard on Ragnaros, and earned a few Feat of Strength achievements. WoW and I have deep ties.

I've hit various caps on plenty of characters. At one time or another I've mained a Shaman, Rogue, Warlock, Mage, Priest, Druid, Hunter and Death knight. This won't be my first ride on the merry-go-round when it comes to World of Warcraft's mechanics or universe. And while there's a certain excitement that comes with exploring a completely new game every month, it's nice to take some time to return to my roots and chart a new adventure through a familiar world. Shaman might not have totems anymore (kind of), but WoW is still WoW.

I'm going to try to approach WoW as a new player. I won't be sending any resources over from existing characters, nor will I take advantage of any guild ties or friends. Choose My Adventure is all about the new player experience, and I will do what I can to preserve that angle. I want to see what it's like to log into the game without any of the hard advantages (money, resources) experienced players take for granted. Soft advantages (understanding mechanics and the world) aren't something I can get rid of, but I think I've been away from WoW long enough to erode some of that muscle memory.

Warlords of Draenor

This column is here to explore what happens when readers decide where we go and what we do. However, some decisions need to be made by me ahead of time simply for the sake of time limits or setting a general direction. In this particular CMA, I've made one core decision that will inform how the whole thing plays out. Instead of starting at level 1 and plowing through the content we've all seen a hundred times before, I'll be using my instant level 90 boost (free with the Warlords of Draenor expansion) to kick us directly into the new stuff. Pow!

That means we won't be making any trips to The Barrens or Elwynn Forest but will instead be focusing our efforts on Draenor, our garrison, new dungeons, and whatever else the game chooses to throw at us. We'll also get answer some key questions about the instant level 90 process, the implementation of which turned out to be quite controversial. How, exactly, are we to learn 90 levels of skills in just a few minutes? Will we be completely inept, or will the game teach us how to effectively play our class? Is World of Warcraft so easy now that 10 minutes is all it takes to master a class?

Tune in for our CMA Live Stream Team posts and you'll see the answers for yourself.

Decisions, decisions

There's a lot to decide here in this first CMA post. We're creating a new character from scratch, after all. I'm putting all available options on the table, but we need to establish a hierarchy for how your votes will be counted since some races can't be certain classes and faction choice affects race choice. Here's how this is going to work: Class is the most important decision, so it's getting weighed most heavily. After class comes faction, after faction comes race, and after race comes gender. I will take the highest-voted viable options and create our character.

In other words, if voters want a Shaman but they also want Undead, the Shaman choice outweighs the race choice and I'll proceed to the highest-voted race that can actually be a Shaman. Got it? Good.

Let's get started. Give me a class! I've included role descriptions for those of you who are new to the world of World of Warcraft and you can take a deeper look on the game's official site.
Now choose a faction. I've played characters on both sides of the aisle and honestly have no preference either way.
Next, a race. Learn more here.
And finally, a gender.
Get your votes in by Friday, December 5th, at 11:59 p.m. EST. On Saturday, December 6th, I'll livestream creating the character and taking it through its starting steps so we can all see the instant 90 process in action. That stream will go live right here on Massively at 7:00 p.m. EST.

And that's that! If anyone has a server suggestion I'm all ears. I prefer PvP, of course! See you folks in Azeroth!

Mike Foster is putting you in the driving seat of Choose My Adventure, the Massively column in which you make the rules, call the shots, and take the blame when things go horribly awry. Stop by every Wednesday to help Mike as he explores the ins and outs of games big and small and to see what happens when one man tries to take on a world of online games armed only with a solar keyboard and the power of spellcheck.